Gambling Legislation

Iowa lawmaker not optimistic about online casinos

An Iowa Representative doesn’t believe the state will put a lot of interest into legalizing online gaming

Iowa has one of the strictest gambling regulations and is not open to expanding gambling. This is evidenced by the time taken for the state to legalize gambling.

For example, Representative Bobby Kaufmann introduced the online casino bill in 2021. The bill has not seen the light of day and has barely been discussed this year. Rep. Jacob Bossman also believes the state may not pass the legislation in 2024. Kaufmann also proposed a state sports betting bill in 2019, which passed. However, when he returned with the casino proposal in 2022, he admitted it wouldn’t pass.

All 19 commercial casinos in Iowa must give their support for the bill to pass, according to Kaufman. Wes Ehrecke of the Iowa Gaming Association says only 13 casinos favored the bill at the beginning of 2023, so Kaufmann decided to wait until March to introduce the bill.

Lawmakers are also concerned about child gambling, explained Bossman, as officials believe that children can easily place bets online using their parents’ devices. Another reason lawmakers are reluctant to expand gambling is that it could take business from existing casinos.

For example, New Jersey has nine land-based casinos and added online gaming after the spread of the Coronavirus. The state recently approved another five years of online gambling, partly because it didn’t affect the land-based casino business.

Howard Glaser of Light & Wonder also pointed out that Iowa casinos have no reason to worry about cannibalization. He went on to say that local casinos are fearful of the state’s big casino brands. For example, Caesars is a huge brand compared to Elite Casino Resorts. Glaser contested Bossman to think about market growth and all parties benefiting from it.

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