As with most places, Iowa has strict rules when it comes to gambling. Responsible gaming is one of the hottest topics in the ecosystem now, and Iowa has several measures in place to help protect gamblers from themselves. One is the ability to self-exclude from any type of gambling, and operators are required to regularly update their platforms with self-exclusion data provided by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC). The gaming regulator already dropped the hammer on DraftKings for not following the rules, and has now let it fly on two more. Both PointsBet and Betfred have been hit with fines for violating Iowa’s self-exclusion policies.
By law, gaming operators in Iowa have seven days to update their databases after the IRGC publishes its newest list. DraftKings had failed to do so, which is why it received a fine of $5,000. PointsBet has also been hit with the same fine for the same reason. The sports gambling operator, which is partnered with Catfish Bend Casino, has been in Iowa for around a year and a half and should know better by now. PointsBet admits it failed the system and IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko asserts that the company has assured the regulator that it won’t happen again. This was the first offense in violation of the rule committed by PointsBet.
Betfred was found guilty of the same infraction and was also handed a $5,000 fine. Ohorilko explains that an employee at the company, who reportedly is responsible for downloading the IRGC and updating Betfred’s database, was late in fulfilling his duties, resulting in the fine. As with PointsBet, it was a first offense for the operator after having launched in the state earlier this year through a partnership it signed with Grand Falls Casino.
While a one-time fine of $5,000 won’t do a lot of damage to the sportsbooks’ bottom lines, repeated violations could have ugly outcomes. Regulators everywhere could decide to pull operating licenses if operators demonstrate patterns of non-compliance, and this could also lead to having license applications in new areas rejected when the companies try to expand. As rapidly as sports gambling is expanding across the US, there is still a certain degree of opposition to the activity and, with the right support, anti-sports gambling lobbyists could use the violations as a mechanism to prevent further expansion.
There is already talk that a Biden-led country could see federal sports gambling regulations introduced. This would undoubtedly include self-exclusion provisions – most likely still controlled at the state level – and an accumulation of violations will give Capitol Hill power-seekers additional fodder to thwart any forward progress. Downloading and updating a weekly list of names seems to be a fairly simple task that should be managed without any hassles.