A once-controversial gambling bill has sailed through a House Committee, drawing support from some ardent gambling opponents. The vote in the House State Government Committee was 20 in favor and only three opposed to legislation that calls for a study of how the state’s casinos might run an on-line poker network.
Representative Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Clarion, says requiring the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to conduct a study of online betting is a good first step. “I think it behooves all of us in the state to really find out how big internet gambling is in the state of Iowa,” Iverson says.
Backers says online poker players are getting fleeced by websites today, and having the state casinos in charge of the games would be a consumer-protection measure. “And it’s something we do need to get a handle on, but it’s kind of tough to get a handle on it when we don’t actually know what’s going on out there,” Iverson says, “so I think that report would be helpful.”
The bill as originally drafted would have given the casinos the go-ahead to run poker games on-line, but the bill was scaled back in a senate committee. The legislation cleared the full senate last week.
The bill includes other gambling-related proposals, like establishing racing payouts for the horse industry and limiting how often voters must approve gambling referendums in counties with casinos. The bill passed the senate last week on a 38 to 12 vote. It is now eligible for debate in the full House.