• Iowa Senate Bill IA SF 366 will now reach the entire Senate Chamber for a full vote
  • Iowa House Bill IA HF 648 is a closely matching bill in the State House that is currently up for a floor vote.
  • Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has previously expressed an openness to sports betting legislation.

DES MOINES, Iowa – Lawmakers have flirted with the idea of legal Iowa sports betting since the start of this year’s legislative session. Now, with Iowa Senate Bill IA SF 366 passing through the Ways and Means Committee last week, the bill has a real shot to become law.

If signed into law, the bill would effectively legalize sports betting in Iowa’s racetracks and riverboat casinos. Those establishments would then need to be approved of a license by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

However, before the bill was voted to pass through the Senate Ways and Means Committee there were amendments added to help match Iowa House Bill HF 648.

Those amendments included a 6.75% state tax on gross gaming revenues, a prohibition on live betting for Iowa collegiate sports programs, and an extension of the 11% of revenue that the casino Prairie Meadows uses to fund its live horse racing business to sports gambling revenue.

House Bill HF 648 is already eligible to go to the House floor for a full chamber vote and Senate bill SF 366 is now in the same position.

Regulated Iowa sports betting seems to have the support from Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, former wide receiver for the Iowa State Cyclones.

“Illegal sports betting is happening every single day in Iowa. The question is should we just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t happen?” said Whitver in an interview with the Iowa Press on Iowa Public Television. “Or should we regulate it so that if there are concerns and there is corruption happening we have a better chance to find that and make sure that it doesn’t happen.”

However, there are still a few differences in the bills that would need to be figured out before going to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds desk.

Both bills allow for mobile wagering and require residents to register in-person, but the difference lies within how this additional revenue will be taxed and what to do with the funds.

An additional amendment made on the Senate bill would require that the casinos that have a legal sports betting license pay a 0.75% fee on sports wagering revenues to a qualified sponsoring organization located within their community for the purposes of providing charity work.

If both bills are passed by their respective chambers, then state lawmakers would have to work out those differences in time before the legislative session ends in May.

Governor Kim Reynolds indicated she was open to the idea and seems likely to sign sports betting into law.

“You know, I think it needs to be regulated,” said Reynolds. “It’s happening. It’s happening to a big extent.”

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