DES MOINES, Iowa — Bipartisan support has sent sports betting in Iowa to the desk of Gov. Kim Reynolds.
“It’s happening illegally and we wanted to bring that illegal gambling out of the darkness so we can regulate it and keep a better eye on it,” said Republican Sen. Jack Whitver.
The bill will legalize sports betting online and in person at Iowa casinos. Despite a 67-31 vote in favor, it was not without controversy. Republican Rep. Scott Ourth voted “no” and said, “It troubles me greatly that we are going to create new addicts, bankruptcies and condone the breaking up of families.”
Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson says the House is prepared for any problem gamblers, and a deal is already in the works to provide $300,000 to gambling addiction programs in Iowa. “We actually have a separate bill in appropriations committee that we are going to double the money going to those funds, so in terms of getting people the help they need, we are going to provide additional resources to make sure that happens.”
Another point of contention, the bill will allow betting on college sports. “They are concerned about the impact it will have on collegiate sports and I don’t want to see those sports teams compromised in any way,” said Democrat Rep. Mary Mascher.
Whitver voted for the bill, played football at Iowa State, and says college athletes are well versed in keeping their hands clean from any involvement. “In college athletics, the compliance office does a really good job of informing student-athletes the problems with getting involved with illegal gambling. Frankly, you go to prison if you get hooked up in that,” Whitver said.
A “yes” vote was cut and dry for some like Democratic Rep. Tony Bisignano. “When the Supreme Court ruled that other states could have it as a state`s choice, it was an automatic go-to,” said Bisignano.
Iowa is now all-in for better or worse. “We are going to give blessings tonight to the destruction of young lives tonight in Iowa,” said Ourth.
With any bet, the future is uncertain. Hinson said, “We have some unknowns with this bill in terms of how much revenue will come in.”
With the governor’s signature, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will have the authority to set a start date of legalized sports betting in Iowa.
Iowa Casino’s will be charged a 7.5% tax rate on revenue from sports betting.