Online Gambling Debate Gets Hot in Iowa

In Iowa, the discussions involving gambling expansion in the state are heating up. Currently, Senate File 617 has made it to Governor Kim Reynolds desk. The bill would legalize sports betting in the state along with daily fantasy sports gaming. With this decision looming, lawmakers are now fighting over online gambling operations.

Online In or Out?

Lawmakers in the state are ready to move forward with additions to their gambling industry. However, some are still not open to changes, particularly online gambling. Senator Joe Bolkcom took to the Senate floor recently waving a smartphone around, talking about how online gaming will ‘queue up the next generation of gamblers’ in the state. He asked the question where would online gambling lead the state.

On top of online gambling discussions, the state Lottery is ready to propose online ticket sales. They want to move into the modern era and offer their games online, like many other states in the US. The goal is to open the door to younger people, an audience that is more apt to use a smartphone to do anything than in real life.

If the Senate bill is approved by the governor, players 21 years of age or older in the state would be able to create virtual wallet accounts at casinos in Iowa. The goal of the account would be to have a source in which to place online sports bets. Supporters have pointed out that players are already taking part in the black market, so the industry should be legalized to provide revenues for the state.

If approved, the 19 casinos of the state could begin to apply for licensing for sports betting, both onsite and online. Operators would have to offer services based on the regulations of the commission. During the first 18 months of the proposed law, gamblers would have to clear age and geographic requirements to be able to create a new account at a casino before online gambling could begin.

By January 2021, the on-site requirement to register would no longer exist and players can register online. Those taking part would have the option to set limits on betting. This is considered a preventative measure to gambling addiction. Lawmakers want to provide funding as well for treatment programs involving gambling addiction.


Of course, opponents still exist and feel that online gambling will lead to an increase in family troubles, personal and financial issues connected to problem gambling. Tom Coates, a long-running opponent to gambling in the state, feels that residents are opposed and that is why the governor is not ready to sign just yet.

For now, it seems the argument will continue and only time will tell if changes will be made to the legislation in order to please the governor and anyone who is opposed to the idea of online gambling. Will the sports betting bill have a chance? Or will changes be made to help push the legislation along?

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.