With little debate, a committee in the Iowa Senate has endorsed legislation that would set up an online poker network for Iowans.

Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, says the state-licensed casinos would run the internet poker games like Texas Hold ‘Em. “While it takes place on the internet, it’s functionally an intranet,” Danielson says, “Iowa players playing Iowa players.”

Some estimate as many as 150,000 Iowans are currently playing poker online and Danielson says legislators need to realize technology may be passing them by. “It’s a modest first step,” Danielson says. “Given the technology that’s out there today, I think we’re going to ahve to deal with this issue again and again in the future.”

Senator Jerry Behn, a Republican from Boone, agrees the bill is a “first step” on the path toward more, state-sanctioned internet gambling.  “I think that’s a road that I really don’t think it’s appropriate to go down,” Behn said. 

Behn was among the six senators on the Senate State Government Committee who voted against the bill.  Nine senator voted for it, but only Danielson spoke out in favor of the legislation during this evening’s committee meeting.

Iowa could become the first state in the country to legalize internet gambling if the bill becomes law.