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Iowa Legalizes Sports Betting


Iowa is wagering that now that it has a signed bill legalizing sports wagering, the bettors will come.

On Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the legislation, just one day before the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing states to implement sports betting. Until a year ago, Nevada was the only state wagering was allowed.

The Iowa bill allows bets to be placed on professional, collegiate and international sporting events, such as the Olympics or World Cup.

Bets can be placed at the 19 state-regulated casinos. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which regulates the casinos, also will oversee sports wagering.

The measure also allows fantasy sports contests and internet fantasy sports betting, utilizing DraftKings and FanDuel apps and websites. However, betting based on college sporting event statistics has been postponed until May 2020. Also, the law prohibits in-game prop bets, such as will a certain player hit a home run during the game.

Betting is restricted to those age 21 and older.

The Republican governor was relatively mum on where she stood on the betting topic and let the measure sit on her desk for about a week before signing off on it.

Following healthy debate, the bill passed the Iowa House 67-31 on April 22. The state Senate had approved the measure the week before, 31-18.

"Gov. Reynolds believes that legalizing sports betting will bring this practice out of an unregulated black market,” governor spokesman Pat Garrett said, according to the Des Moines Register. “This law will regulate, tax, and police sports betting in a safe and responsible way," said the governor's spokesman, Pat Garrett.

Iowa will collect a 6.75 percent tax on the casino’s house share after bets have been settled.

It’s anticipated that brick-and-mortar sports wagering could be ready to proceed in the state by the start of this year’s NFL season, with mobile betting to follow quickly after, but players much register in-person at a casino before they can place a wager.

With little more than 3 million people living in the state, it is projected Iowa will have more than $4 billion in annual sports wagers. That number anticipates many bettors from Nebraska and Minnesota to cross state lines to bet on sporting contests, just as many New York residents travel to New Jersey to wager.

Out-of-state bettors using the mobile app will still have to register before betting and will have bet from within the Iowa. The app won’t work on the other side of the state line.

Brendan Bussmann, a former Nebraskan who now is a partner in Las Vegas-based gaming and entertainment consultant Global Market Advisors, told the Omaha World Herald that Iowa is "kicking Nebraska's butts" by jumping ahead in sports betting.

"Iowa's going to continue to profit off Nebraska," said Bussmann , who was director of football operations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1996-2003. "Most of your Big Ten states are going to have sports betting within two years."

Nebraska has tried a few times to muster support for sports betting but it has failed. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts also opposes gambling.