Governor Branstad says legislators should table a bill that would allow Iowans to legally claim the substantial prize money in online “fantasy sports” competitions.
“I just think we need to study it more,” Branstad says. “I’ve had a lot of questions raised by people on this.”
Iowans may participate in contests in which competitors choose players from a variety of teams and “win” based on the way each of those individuals performs in a real game. However, state law prohibits Iowans from winning the kind of big prizes now available on sites like “Fan Duel” and “Draft Kings”.
A bill that would make it legal to accept those prizes has cleared a Senate subcommittee and has been discussed by a small group of House members, but Branstad says the best option would be to have state gambling regulators study the issue first.
“Doing this in the closing hours of the session I don’t think is good public policy,” Branstad says. “…I understand there’s a lot of interest in young men in this, but I also understand that we need to protect the integrity of the state and I think a more thorough study over time by the Racing and Gaming Commission would make more sense.”
Last year the Iowa Senate approved a bill that would have classified fantasy sports leagues as “social gaming” — so Iowans could win prizes of any amount. Under current law, Iowans who assemble a “team” of real professional athletes on a “fantasy” squad can win no more than $50 a day in any competition. The chairman of the tax-writing committee in the Iowa House says he has no plans of taking up a bill to change that.