Iowa Online Poker Legalization In Progress

Senate committee forwards through Danielson bill for further consideration

Iowa state Senator Jeff Danielson managed on Monday to fast track his online poker legalization bill SSB3164 through a key senate sub-committee despite fears that the President's Day holiday would delay the process. The three member Senate panel forwarded the bill through for further consideration by the Senate State Government Committee with a possibility to review it as early as this Wednesday.

Since prohibition has failed in other areas and the nations, the preferred approach is to bring an illegal betting activity (estimated at between $30 million and $100 million annually) under state regulation in order to protect Iowans and clear away underage play.

The legislation that Danielson proposed would authorise the creation of an online poker network and provide a regulatory structure, as well as allow intrastate, interstate and international arrangements by common consent. Poker sites would operate under the state’s current gaming fee structure, and competing hub operators would be able to partner with state-licensed casinos under the control of the state Racing and Gaming Commission to operate affiliated online sites for registered players aged 21 and older who are within Iowa’s borders at the time they are playing.

Danielson pointed out that out-of-state residents would be able to go to an Iowa casino, establish an account and play during the time they are in Iowa. In support of this proposal a Democrat Senator Wally Horn said “We have it out there. It needs to be controlled.” Republican Sen. Rick Bertrand agreed, saying: "I see this as an opportunity for Iowa to get out in front of this.”

Wes Ehrecke of the Iowa Gaming Association said his members are generally supportive of the concept, especially if there is no exclusivity offered to one hub operator. The group would like passage of a federal law to address online gaming from a national perspective but if not, it prefers a plan to allow Internet poker on the casinos’ “platform,” regulated by the state commission and with reciprocity to enter into partnerships with Nevada, the District of Columbia and other states that may choose to legalize the pastime.

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