Online Poker Closer to Being Legalized in Iowa

By Debra SaundersGoogle

On Tuesday, Senate File 2275, an “Act authorizing licensees… to operate internet wagering on poker,” passed the Iowa State Senate by a vote of 29 to 20.

Democrat State Senator Jeff Danielson introduced the bill on February 27th, nearly one year after a similar bill he sponsored died in the same Senate through which it just passed. Commenting on the failure at the time, Danielson was quoted as saying, “I just think people need a clearer picture of the evidence and I don’t think they’re ready in this session to legalize it. So we want to give them the best information possible as we go into next year.”

Last year, amendments to the bill called for a study by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on online casino games and online poker. The results were published this past December and estimated that intrastate online poker in Iowa would generate $3 to $13 million in annual tax revenue. At the same time, the United States Department of Justice clarified its position on online poker, stating that the Wire Act of 1961 only made online sports betting illegal. Danielson took this as an opportunity to reintroduce the online casino games bill in the state. In January, he stated, “We believe that because of the Department of Justice ruling, we can now have a multi-state compact.”

The bill has stipulations for both online poker within state borders and interstate online poker. Section 10, states in part, “An internet wager may be placed from any location within this state or from any other location where authorized by law, subject to any requirements adopted by the commission.”

The bill makes clear that potential operators of top online casino games and poker sites would have to create a partnership with state-licensed brick-and-mortar casinos as they cannot operate as a lone entity. It goes on to stipulate that until a potential multi-state compact is agreed upon, operators of online casino games sites may only serve poker players within Iowa state borders.

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