The Iowa House debated a gambling measure Monday and agreed to allow up to $10,000 in cash prizes for non-profit organizations who hold annual game nights. Current law allows such groups to give away $10,000 in merchandise only, not cash.
Representative Brian Quirk, a Democrat from New Hampton, says local non-profit groups will benefit from the change. Quirk says: “Who is this about? Who is this going to help? Your local firefighters, your EMS, your local Lions club, your Kiwanis, your local church. The restrictions for buy-in is minimal.”
That means there’s a $250 limit on how much a participant can spend, which Quirk called minimal. Also, any one person’s cash winnings would be limited to $5,000. Quirk says, “You don’t have the same problems that you would have at a casino. And the things you can do with the money, the local community building and foundation and spirits.”
Gambling critics were furious and called the bill a significant expansion of gambling. Representative Scott Raecker, a Republican from Urbandale, says there would be $10,000 in cash given out with no real supervision. Raecker says, “We’re opening up an area of social gambling in this state that we’ve never tread upon before. This is a whole bunch of money in unregulated environments.”
Raecker urged lawmakers to consider what this would do to their communities. Raecker says:”There’s not going to be DCI agents at these annual game nights. There’s not going to be people there to make sure you’re under 21. And if you are, they aren’t required by law to self-report as our casinos and racinos are.” Initially, the bill allowed only card tournaments for veterans’ groups.
The Senate called for the new $10,000 cash game nights with little debate. House gambling foes argued against it for several hours. The bill goes back to the Senate for consideration of minor House changes.