On Monday, an Iowa legislative subcommittee approved Senate Study Bill 3164, which will legalize online poker in the state by allowing “licensees authorized to conduct gambling games on an excursion boat, gambling structure, or racetrack enclosure to operate internet wagering on poker and making penalties applicable.”
The three-member Senate panel voted to send the bill to the Senate State Government Committee, which may consider passage as soon as this week. The bill explains that “Internet wagering shall be limited to wagering on poker and all of its variations,” and that the licensee must verify that players are at least 21 years old. Any existing or new gaming operation also must submit an application and meet established criteria before being allowed to conduct Internet wagering.
If passed, the legislation would provide for intrastate, interstate and international options, as well as operation and taxation details. “We have it out there. It needs to be controlled,” said Senator Wally Horn (D-Cedar Rapids).
Horn’s sentiments were echoed by Senator Rick Bertrand (R-Sioux City): “I agree something has to be done at this point. I see this as an opportunity for Iowa to get out in front of this.”
While Iowa lawmakers seem intent on pioneering an online gaming platform, there are still plenty of critics. Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference told the subcommittee, “We do believe it will result in a greater number of people getting addicted to gambling.”
Similarly, Family Leader official Danny Carroll urged the subcommittee to consider the bill’s effect on families, saying, “The people of Iowa do not want it.”
Iowa is now the fourth state in two years to consider an intrastate poker bill, joining Hawaii, New Jersey, and Nevada, with only the latter having adopted the bill and taken steps to make online gaming a reality.