Iowa sports betting bill heads to Governor

23 April 2019

The Iowa House of Representatives has approved an amended version of a bill that would legalise sports betting in the state, with Governor Kim Reynolds’ signature all that is required for it to come into law.

Senate File 617 passed by a vote of 67-31 and will now be passed on to Governor Reynolds in the hope it will be signed off before the end of the current legislative session on May 3.

SF617 is seeking to permit in-person, online and mobile sports betting in Iowa. The House had previously passed the bill, but it was returned after the Senate last week made a number of amendments upon voting through the bill 31-18.

Although the House rejected all of the Senate’s amendments, it did compromise on certain elements, including the licence fee operators will face should the bill come into law.

The House had been keen a fee of $75,000 (£57,750/€66,690) while the Senate had proposed $15,000, but it was agreed that the licences will cost $45,000. 

In addition, a ban on daily fantasy sports contests based on collegiate players will now only be in force until May 2020, should the bill be signed into law.

Other key aspects of the bill remain unchanged, including a tax rate of 6.75% on operators’ annual sports wagering net receipts. Operators would be able to enter partnerships with up to two entities to set up additional sites for sports betting, but only if the third party did not already hold a licence in Iowa.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would regulate the market and betting would be permitted across professional and collegiate sports, but there would be a ban on betting on player performance for athletes representing a college team based in Iowa.

SF 617 is an evolution of Senate Study Bill 1168, which, filed in February, focused on legalising betting on professional and collegiate sporting events at Iowa’s 19 casinos, racetracks and other gambling facilities.

Image: Tony Webster