Forbes: Iowa sports betting laws require thorough vetting
The future of sports betting in Iowa may change dramatically in the relatively near future. A United States Supreme Court ruling last May allowed states to set up sports wagering. A bill in the Iowa Legislature to establish sports wagering failed to advance last year pending the Supreme Court ruling.
But all indications are sports wagering will be on the front burner this year. Eight states already allow wagering on sports, and that number is expected to grow to as many as 32 in the next five years.
Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino is making its own bet on sports gambling.
Officials recently announced the casino has entered into a partnership with William Hill US to operate a casino sports book, and the casino is building an 8,600-square-foot facility to house the operation.
Of course, all this is contingent on what the Legislature does this session.
State Rep. Bobby Kauffman, R-Wilton, chair of the State Government Committee, said he plans to introduce a sports gambling bill soon.
The idea appears to have bipartisan support, but as always, the devil is in the details.
I am generally supportive of the concept, but I want to ensure proper safeguards are in place. I would want to know the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would have the resources to police any “bad actors” who may come on the scene.
I would also expect to increase the funds available for gambling treatment and addiction. And as my colleague Rep. Bruce Hunter put it, I don’t want some 14-year-old grabbing dad’s credit card and running up thousands of dollars in betting.
Sports gambling would generate the money to pay for these safeguards and conditions, but those expecting a windfall in state dollars will probably be disappointed. Sports betting will not generate significant dollars for the state budget.
Gov. Kim Reynolds has said many questions will need to be answered before she would support sports betting. I agree.
But the fact is sports betting is already ingrained in American culture, so why not regulate it and impose certain safeguards?
Another issue on the front burner early this session is making sure all votes are counted. As you may know, a legislative race from northeast Iowa is still in doubt after local election officials declined to open 29 absentee ballots, even though they were received on time. A court referred the matter to the Iowa House of Representatives.
House Republicans in the majority declined to open the ballots or even take testimony on the matter. The House will debate the issue soon.
My position is simple. All votes received on time should be counted. How can it be any other way?
STATE REP. JOHN FORBES, D-Urbandale, represents District 40 in the Iowa House of Representatives. The district includes much of Urbandale. He can be reached at email@example.com or 778-7699 or 281-3221.