A gambling bill ready for debate next week in the Iowa House would allow Iowans to place bets on-line or over-the-phone on the horse races at Prairie Meadows.   

Bettors would be able to put money into an account so they can place bets on the horses, without actually going to the track. Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, isn’t convinced it’s a good idea.

“If somebody goes to the track and they’re placing a bet, you know they’re of age,” Mascher says. “When you start allowing it to be done outside of the place where you’re betting, then you’re opening up yourself to problems.” 

Mascher was one of just three people to vote against the bill when it cleared a House  committee earlier this week. “I think this is an expansion of gaming and that concerns me a great deal,” Mascher said.

Representative Peter Cownie, a Republican from West Des Moines, says Iowa is losing gambling revenue to other states that allow the practice.

“Right now, this is legal in 20 other states,” Cownie says. “…For example, it is legal in California and Iowans can go do that right now.”

Prairie Meadows in Altoona is Iowa’s only horse racing facility and track officials say “advanced deposit wagering” could generate millions of dollars in additional gambling profits and gambling taxes paid to the state.