Legalizing iGaming to Be a “Multiyear Effort” in Iowa

Iowa bettors hoping for more online betting options may have to wait until 2023. The Iowa House of Representatives recently “shut down” talks on a House Study Bill 604. HSB 604 would have legalized online casinos in Iowa.

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There are many reasons why HSB 604 stalled out this time around. Perhaps the biggest reason is that the legislation only had the support of 13 of Iowa’s 19 casinos. Despite not passing this session, proponents of the bill believe iGaming has built momentum for next year.

Another gaming bill could still be passed this year. HSB 578 could bring significant changes to the Iowa gaming landscape. If passed, the bill would expand the events bettors could legally bet on. It would also change certain licensing requirements and monetary penalties. HSB 578 needs to advance through its current committee by Friday, February 18th to be voted on this year.

What is Iowa HSB 604?

Iowa’s HSB 604 was introduced by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann. The bill was designed to allow casinos in Iowa to run online operations as well. Kaufmann’s bill advanced through a subcommittee at the beginning of February. Kaufmann and others are hopeful that the progress in this session can be used to build momentum for next year.

HSB 604 has been compared to gaming bills in Indiana that also recently failed to pass through the legislature. It included several industry-friendly components designed to gain support from Iowa’s casinos. The bill would have allowed casinos to acquire an initial online license for a fee of $45,000. Casinos could renew online licenses annually at a cost of $10,000.

Kaufmann’s gambling bill also would have allowed licensees to operate two branded mobile apps. Mobile betting has been instrumental in helping other states launch online casino betting. HSB 604 would have let casinos enter agreements for multijurisdictional online games that are allowed by federal and state law.

Rep. Kaufmann understands that the process for legalizing online casino operations will be a marathon, not a sprint. Kaufmann’s goal for introducing HSB 604 was to build momentum around the idea of an online casino bill. Despite the opposition from some of Iowa’s casinos, Kaufmann’s bill did make progress by successfully passing through a subcommittee.

Why Did HSB 604 Not Pass?

Rep. Kaufmann designed HSB 604 to allow Iowa’s casinos access to a new revenue source. Iowa allows casinos to operate online sportsbooks, and casinos have taken full advantage of online sports betting. Despite the success of electronic sportsbooks, many Iowa casinos still oppose online casinos.

Of the 19 casinos in Iowa, only 13 supported HSB 604. The remaining 6 casinos have voiced concerns about the impact online casinos will have on their revenue. Specifically, opponents have concerns about reduced ancillary revenue from their entertainment, lodging, and restaurants.

Casinos have invested millions of dollars to build their brick-and-mortar facilities. Opponents of HSB 604 fear online casinos could have the same impact that streaming services have had on movie theatre companies.

Without the support of all 19 Iowa casinos, no online casino bill is likely to pass. The Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) has not thrown its support behind the bill. According to IGA President and CEO Wes Ehrecke, the IGA is neutral on the concept of iGaming. The IGA will not likely support any online casino legislation until all of Iowa’s casinos can agree on it.

Changes Could Still be Coming to Iowa Gaming This Year

HSB 604 and future online casino bills still have a long way to go to garner enough support to pass. However, there is another casino bill that could be passed in Iowa this year. HSB 578 also passed through subcommittees this session. The bill would legalize new betting options for Iowans to wager on.

If passed, HSB 578 would legalize betting on eSports, such as League of Legends and Call of Duty. HSB 578 would also legalize betting on charitable sports events, the Heisman Trophy winner, and the NFL Draft. Bettors would also be allowed to use eWallets on their mobile devices to manage their bankrolls while at casinos.

The bill would also bring changes to many casino regulations. If it is passed, HSB 578 would remove licensing requirements for non-gaming personnel that work in hospitality positions. It would also eliminate fines for errors committed by casino employees in charge of managing jackpots.

Unlike HSB 604, HSB 578 is widely supported by Iowa’s casinos. However, it is opposed by some faith-based organizations in the state that take issue with cashless gaming. The bill is currently in the full Committee on State Government. It would need to be advanced through the committee by February 18th to be able to be passed this session.

Conclusion

Despite some progress in the legislature, Iowa’s online casino bill will not be passed this year. HSB 604 would have allowed all 19 of the casinos in Iowa to launch online operations. The bill passed through the subcommittee but has since been shut down. Despite failing to pass this year, there is still plenty of optimism around a future online casino bill.

Proponents of the bill are hopeful that they can build off their success from this year in the future. The bill not passing this year was not a surprise. Rep. Kaufmann, the author of the bill, has stated that passing an online casino bill will be a “multiyear effort.”

Iowa allows online sports betting, and many casinos have benefited from electronic wagers. However, there are concerns from a minority of casinos that legalizing online casinos would negatively impact their other revenue. With millions of dollars already spent on their on-site operations, casino operators want to protect their investments. For a bill to pass in the future, it would need to address these financial concerns.

Another bill could pass this session that would also expand betting options in Iowa. HSB 578 has the support of Iowa’s casinos. It would allow wagering on eSports, charitable events, the NFL Draft, and the Heisman Trophy. HSB 578 would also remove some fines and licensing requirements.

Iowa Is Doing Pretty Well Thanks to Gambling

Iowa’s treasury has been overflowing thanks to the gambling industry, as it received a lot of cash to fill the coffers in 2018. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) published a report recently that shows some really interesting figures, one of them being that the casino industry in the state brought about $1.5 billion to it. This is, by far, the best year for Iowa since 2012. After all the taxes, the share that Iowa’s bank account received was $321.86 million.

What is more interesting at the moment is that the number of people who visit the casinos in Iowa has decreased over the past couple of years. How is it that the revenue from casinos increased, then?

Well, there are a couple of other factors that affected that, and one of the primary factors is that Iowa’s economy has been very stable lately. Up until 2012, everything looked great, but 2013 saw a significant downturn due to the global crisis. People still visited casinos, but the amount of money they were willing to spend on casino games was much lower back then. The economy of Iowa started going up again, and it seems that 2018 was the year the state fully recovered. At the moment, the unemployment rate in Iowa is only 2.5%, which is one of the lowers rates in the entire country. The personal income in the state is up by 5.5% in comparison to 2016.

Iowa has a total of 19 non-tribal casinos, and according to IGRC, the slot revenue from them was $1.31 billion with the final take going to Iowa being $156.80 million. The casino that was definitely the winner in the revenue competition was Horseshoe Council Bluffs venue which is operated by Caesars Entertainment. It offers a total of 1,400 slots and 60 table games which are scattered across a 60,000 sq ft gaming floor. The total amount of tax revenue generated in this casino for the year of 2018 was $37.50 million.

The next casino on the list was Ameristar, which contributed a total of $33.41 million in taxes. Ameristar is actually the only riverboat casino in the state of Iowa, and it offers currently five gaming tables for high-rollers and 51 high-limit slots on the 38,500 sq ft of gaming space.

Iowa actually has a pretty long gambling tradition, and the current state of gambling is as such thanks to the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act from 1983. Harness racing and greyhounds were introduced only two years after that, and the first riverboat casino was founded back in 1991. Ever since then, the gambling industry in Iowa has been flourishing and thriving. The only time there was a dip was back in 2013, but the state managed to fully recover from that, and the industry is running full speed ahead.

Iowa will also legalize sports betting very soon, it seems. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, the Governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, signed off on the legislation related to sports gambling. Once up and running, this activity could bring approximately $5 to $10 million annually to the state of Iowa. The IRGC will also be the main regulatory body for sports betting and will oversee it along the way. The Commission still has to make a couple of more additions to the rules before sports gambling officially becomes available in Iowa. Iowa will, therefore, become the 11th state to have approved sports gambling. If everything goes well, the residents of Iowa will have an opportunity to place bets on the new NFL season which start in September.

These States Likely to Propose Sports Betting Legislation

The news about sports betting being legalized all over the US is being spread all around the world. Some states have acted immediately after the federal ban was lifted and introduced this type of gambling activity to their casinos.

However, other states recognize the potential of sports betting, and many of them are working hard to make this activity available for their sports betting aficionados. Let’s take a look at some of the states that are most likely to introduce this activity next.

Washington DC

The capital of the USA will soon make it possible to bet on the Capitals and the Nationals, and the Redskins and the Wizards as well. As a matter of fact, sports betting is likely to be completely legalized in this state by September 1.

They are currently having trouble sorting out who the sports betting provider would be, as Intralot—the provider initially selected—is already the lottery provider for this state. The regular voting process was bypassed, and Intralot was awarded a license that is now under a 60-day review.

IowaSports Betting

A bill to legalize sports betting was introduced recently in Iowa, and it seems that the residents of this state will have an opportunity to place bets on sports very soon as the bill has been gaining a lot of momentum.

A total of 19 casinos, as well as some other gambling-related facilities such as horse tracks, would be able to open sportsbooks sections. They will be able to create online apps, but people who want to bet on sports would have to be physically present at the betting site to register for an app and place bets via their mobile devices.

Indiana

Indiana is very close to legalizing sports betting as Senate Bill 522 has passed through the first Senate committee. This bill is filled with various changes that are related to the gaming laws that exist in this state. Apart from allowing sports betting activities in Indiana, this bill also proposes the construction of two casinos and relocating the existing ones. The bill was created as a response to declining revenues in the gambling industry in this state. In other words, the officials of Indiana want to improve gaming in their state as they fear people might lose interest over time.

Kentucky

The state of Kentucky has proposed a betting bill that will not only allow sports betting, but also pave the way for online poker and even fantasy sports. The racetracks in Kentucky that want to obtain sports betting fees would have to pay $500,000 to obtain a license and then pay a $50,000 annual renewal. The bill allows using apps for betting, but only if you are on site. According to some estimates, sports betting would bring up to $48 million annually for the budget of this state.

Minnesota

Minnesota is still in the process of consideration when it comes to a sports betting bill. They have an act called the Safe and Regulated Sports Gambling Act of 2019,  and its one goal is to establish the so-called “sports pools.”

Just like in Mississippi, this bill would allow sports betting at 18 tribal casinos. However, the 11 federally recognized tribes must play their part, which means that the success of this deal depends heavily on them. If they reach an agreement, there will be plenty of room to explore all the possible option and eventually introduce sports betting to Minnesota.