New Iowa bill proposes online and mobile sports betting

20 February 2019

Iowa lawmakers are to consider a new bill that would legalise online and mobile sports betting, as well as fantasy sports contests, in the US state.

Introduced by Senator Roby Smith, chair of the Committee on State Government, Senate Study Bill 1168 would allow for wagering on professional and collegiate sporting events at Iowa’s 19 casinos, racetracks and other gambling facilities.

Consumers wishing to bet online or via a mobile would first need to register in-person at a licensed betting venue. Players would need to be at least 21 years old in order to place legal wagers and take part in fantasy sports contests.

Venues would need to apply for a licence to offer online and mobile wagering, but the bill does not state how much the licences will cost, with the General Assembly to decide on this at a later date.

Senate Study Bill 1168 also omits information as to how long the betting licences will be valid for, but does state that operators will have to pay an as-yet undecided annual renewal fee as part of their licence agreement.

The bill does, go into a little more detail in terms of the licences for offering fantasy sports, with these licences to run for maximum of three years. Information on application fees for these licences is absent from the bill, however.

Meanwhile, the new bill includes plans for a tax on sports wagering net receipts and to provide for the allocation of revenues derived from tax, but does not say what rate it will set.

Language for tax on fantasy sports contests is similar in that the bill intends to tax adjusted revenue from such activities, but does not say how much licensees will have to pay.

Senate Study Bill 1168 does also not include any form of commitment to an integrity or royalty fee for sports leagues. However, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would be allowed to share information of any abnormal betting patterns to the leagues to help with their own integrity efforts.

Other measures in the bill include the establishment of a gaming regulatory fund, consisting of fees collected and deposited by licensees.

SB 1168 now joins eight other sports wagering bills that are currently active in the state. The Iowa legislative session is due to run until May 3.

Last month, William Hill agreed a new partnership with the Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Iowa in anticipation of the state passing laws to legalise sports betting.

The bookmaker will serve as the casino’s official sportsbook operator, subject to the passage of regulations in the state. William Hill will operate an 8,600 square foot sportsbook within the casino, near its existing racing centre.

Image: Tony Webster