Even though a bill to legalize online casinos in Iowa passed its first test, lawmakers have already shut down any further discussions.
Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, the author of House Study Bill 604, said, “it’s a multiyear effort.”
iGaming in Iowa must wait another year
The Iowa iGaming bill passed through the House State Government Committee, which, in Kaufmann’s words, was to help build momentum for 2023.
“I wanted to get it through subcommittee as a step forward from last year, but that’s the furthest I expect it to go. I just wanted to get the public engaged and get some media attention so we can continue to push the topic and debate forward.”
A similar online casino bill in neighboring Indiana also failed to get enough support to move forward this year.
What’s the holdup on Iowa online casinos?
According to Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA), of the 19 casinos in the state, six are opposed to Iowa online casino games. Thus, the IGA remains neutral on the issue.
Kaufmann said until all casinos are on board with the bill, “the chances of it passing are zero.”
One of the primary reasons some casinos are hesitant to back HSB 604 is the potential loss of ancillary revenue surrounding food and beverage, entertainment, and lodging.
Another Iowa gaming bill has legs
Another bill introduced by Kaufmann, HSB 578, would include several gambling changes supported by the casino industry.
One such change would allow betting on popular eSports like Call of Duty and League of Legends.
Other changes include:
- Expand sports betting to have wagering on the Heisman Trophy winner, the NFL Draft, and charitable sports events
- Do away with fines on errors made by casino employees in checking jackpots
- Remove licensing requirements for non-gaming personnel in hospitality positions
The bill passed through a subcommittee last week and now sits in the full Committee on State Government, which Kaufmann chairs.
If the bill has any chance at passing this year, it must advance from the committee by Feb. 18.