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Iowa May Open All Gambling, with Online Casinos and Sports Books

Online casinos and poker are included in a sports betting bill which may revolutionize Iowa gambling, opening up gaming to include most popular US games.

Iowa lawmakers are saying that gambling is a yes-or-no question, and as long as the answer is yes, then online casinos, Internet poker, and sports betting should be allowed. With the debate over gaming long since settled in the tiny state with 17 casinos, legislators are considering legalizing most popular forms of gambling to capture revenue presently lost to unregulated games.

The bill would permit sports betting on professional and college sports, except when schools in the state are involved. Online gambling would allow residents to fund accounts at existing casinos, then play poker and gamble from home. Patrons would have to physically visit the casino to collect winnings or deposit funds, allowing age checks and identity review.

The sports betting provision would be only symbolic in nature until a federal ban on sports gambling is lifted; but pressure has been mounting among the states for Congress to withdraw the law and let each state make its own policy.

A bipartisan committee of lawmakers has been working on the measure, and it may advance to the State Government Committee in the House as soon as next week.

"Look, either we're a gambling state or we're not, and with 17 casinos I'd say we're a gambling state," said Representative Brian Quirk to critics who want to limit the types of games available.

Quirk's bill would also permit major poker tournaments to be held at state casinos, and would bring profits to state tracks on simulcast betting from out of state on Iowa racing.

Published on February 18, 2010 by A.J.Maldonado

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