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Iowa to Regulate Internet Gambling?

10 January 2011 by admin

iowaThough American online gambling regulation failed to pass at the federal level, multiple states are looking to pass legislation to regulate it within their borders. New Jersey was the first, and plans to vote on the bill in the state Assembly today, with it being signed into law at the end of the week (if it passes). California is close behind and Florida has introduced legislation, though it is unknown how much support the bill has. Now it seems that Iowa could be the next state to address the issue.

According to the Des Moines Register, two top lawmakers – one on each chamber of the General Assembly – are considering legislation that would allow intrastate online gambling in Iowa. Neither lawmaker is exactly a gung-ho pro-online gambling enthusiast, but both are open to the ideas being pushed by gambling lobbyists in the state.

Mike Gronstal, the Senate Majority Leader, said that he doesn’t have “strong feelings on that issue.” While that’s not a ringing endorsement, it also means that if someone else proposes the bill, he wouldn’t oppose it. While that’s not much, it’s a start. The Register estimates that 150,000 Iowans gamble at overseas online casinos and poker rooms. If the number is accurate, that is a lot of revenue being lost to offshore companies.

Sen. Mike Gronstal When given those numbers, Gronstal said that “some efforts to take charge of our fate” on online gambling “makes sense.” Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, agrees that it makes sense to consider getting in on an industry that is going on anyway. He also added that, though he isn’t against Internet gambling, any bill would be controversial. He also predicted that any legislation would be complicated by calls for changes to the existing gambling laws, especially the laws for horse and dog racing.

If online gambling legislation is introduced in Iowa, they would need a way of curbing problem gambling and ensuring that only people of legal age to gamble participate. The lawmakers speculated that solutions could be to require people to sign up at a current brick and mortar casino. The gambling website would be affiliated with that casino and only those who signed up ahead of time could use the website.

Another proposed solution to the problem gambling issue would be to require players to make cash deposits at the brick and mortar casinos. Only the money deposited in cash could be used to wager online. In theory, that would eliminate the possibility of running up a gambling debt on their credit cards.

At this point, any gambling legislation in Iowa is in the early stages, to say the least, but it is encouraging that another state, especially one in the heartland, is considering the option. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

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