A panel of state senators has signed off on a bill to allow sports betting in Iowa, but backers admit the odds of such wagering being legalized in Iowa are a long-shot.
First, the federal government would have to lift a ban on sports betting. The bill under consideration at the statehouse would allow betting on professional sports only, not college games, with bets to be placed at the 17 state-licensed casinos in Iowa. Senate President Jack Kibbie says the state could use the money from the gambling taxes that would be collected on the wagering.
“It’s certainly a good revenue source. I don’t know a particular number,” Kibbie says. “Delaware estimated…it could be up to $100 million. I think that’s probably a stretch for Iowa.”
Under the bill, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would regulate sports bets placed in Iowa. Kibbie says Iowans are already betting on sporting events like this weekend’s Super Bowl.
“I don’t know of any bookies. I don’t have any phone numbers or anything, but we know sports betting goes on,” Kibbie says. “Anybody that’s familiar with Las Vegas, you know, you can pretty near bet on anything you want, anytime you want. I certainly don’t want to go that far.”
Kibbie is a Democrat from Emmetsburg, a city which already has a state-licensed casino which could offer betting on professional sports if congress lifts the sports betting ban — and if Kibbie’s bill passes the Iowa legislature.
In 1992 congress passed a law that allowed sports betting in Delaware, Nevada, Oregon and Montana — but barred such “bookmaking” everywhere else.
Estimates indicate Americans are illegally betting as much as $380 billion each year on sporting events. About $2.5 billion in sports bets were placed — legally — in Nevada last year. The NCAA has lobbied to make betting on college sports illegal in Nevada. The bill Kibbie supports will next be considered by the Senate State Government Committee and it would not allow wagering on college sports, just professional sports like the NFL, the NBA and boxing.