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Iowa Wants Legalized Sports Betting

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Jan/29/2010

Rod Boshart | Globe Gazette

DES MOINES - Iowa gamblers would be able to legally wager on sporting events if Congress and the Iowa Legislature play ball.

Two Democratic senators introduced separate measures Thursday seeking to give the state Racing and Gaming Commission authority to allow state-licensed racetracks and riverboat casinos to offer sports betting to patrons if a federal prohibition is lifted.

"I think we ought to have sports betting in Iowa," said Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg. "They're probably betting on them anyway, but we're not getting any tax. I think it would raise a lot of money."

The federal professional and amateur sports protection act of 1992 made sports betting illegal in all but a handful of U.S. states. However, Kibbie and Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, say current restrictions are being challenged in court and there are efforts to convince Congress to change the law.

They have offered slightly different versions - Sodders' bill mentions professional sports only, while Kibbie authored a measure that would give Iowa gambling regulators the go-ahead if federal law does not prohibit professional and amateur sports betting in Iowa.

"This bill hinges on federal legislation to open it up," Kibbie said.

"There are people that would like to bet on sports who don't bet on other things," added Kibbie, who speculated an expansion into legalized sports wagering eventually could generate as much as $100 million in new state gaming revenue it if were taxed at the same rate as other betting activities.

Sodders said he hoped the proposals would begin a conversation about legalizing sports gambling. He planned to contact members of Iowa's congressional delegation to enlist help in getting the federal prohibition lifted.

"We think that we ought to be able to regulate that here and have sports betting if Iowa desires to do that in our casinos," he said. "Why not let them do that betting here than in other states that are getting the revenue for that?"

Sodders said the fact that huge sums of money will be wagered on the upcoming Super Bowl is evidence there is consumer interest in betting on sporting events. He said channeling the activity through state-regulated outlets would help prevent problems associated with clandestine betting options.

 

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