Published at 08:36h on March 16, 2023

Last update: March 16, 2023 at 12:30 p.m.

A second consecutive year, an Iowa iGaming bill has been introduced in Des Moines. However, the state legislature isn’t looking to legalize online gambling in Iowa like they did last year.

Iowa iGaming online casino gambling
Iowa State Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R), has introduced legislation to keep the debate going. Kaufmann claims that there will not be a vote regarding online casino gambling in 2023. (Image: AP)

House Study Bill 227 was introduced earlier this month by state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton). The legislative vehicle is a clone of House Study Bill 604, which he filed during the state’s 2022 legislative session.

HSB227 carries on Kaufmann’s effort to initiate a meaningful discussion about whether the state should expand gambling to include iGaming in the form of interactive slot machines and table games.

Iowa is currently home to 19 riverboat and land-based casinos. The properties are permitted to host slots, tables, and betting sports. Iowa additionally permits online sports betting.

HSB227 has been directed to the House Ways and Means Committee, which Kaufmann chairs. Kaufmann stated that he is introducing the iGaming research bill to keep the conversation going. He says progress on an iGaming bill won’t occur until there’s a consensus among the state’s current gaming operators.

Bill Proposal

Kaufmann’s iGaming bill suggests allowing the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to authorize licensed casinos to operate interactive slots and table games online. Online gaming would only be available to the state’s existing casinos. Kaufmann’s proposal would allow the casino to operate two “skins”, or online gaming platforms, but not at an effective tax rate. Kaufmann’s bill doesn’t suggest an effective tax rate for gross gaming revenue generated by online casinos.

Casino Consensus

The odds of expanding gaming in Iowa anytime soon are seemingly long. Only recently, the state’s existing licensed gaming interests convinced state lawmakers that a moratorium was needed on new licenses. In June 2022, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), signed a bill prohibiting the state from approval of new gaming projects until July 1, 2022. In the wake of the pandemic, casinos argued stability was needed. In 2019, Iowa legalized online betting for sports.

Since the 1990s, there have been many changes in Iowa’s gaming laws,”

Senator Jack Whitver (Republican from Polk) stated.

“So, there’s a little, maybe a lot, of gaming fatigue within the Capitol.”Officials in Cedar Rapids opposed the casino freeze. Since 2014, a group of local businessmen has tried to get state approval for a $250 million casino resort. Tiffany O’Donnell, Cedar Rapids’ Mayor, wrote Reynolds asking Reynolds to veto the casino mortarium.

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