JOHNSTON — A key member of the Iowa House says there’s a “very good shot” sports betting will be legalized in Iowa this year – and he predicts the law will let gamblers use their smart phones to place wagers on sporting events.
Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, is chairman of the House committee that will first consider a bill on sports betting. “I think the gambling is already going on across the state of Iowa. I think this will pull people out of the shadows and legitimize things,” he says, “as well they’ll be paying a tax.”
Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association, represents the 19 state-licensed casinos. The casinos are lobbying not only to set up a “sports book” area within their facilities, but they want a mobile aspect as well.
“So if you’re age 21 and over, you’d come into the casino, prove you’re 21, establish an account through a password-protected, secure portal of the casino then to be able to place bets on a smart phone or a laptop anywhere within the state,” Ehrecke says. “Intrastate only.”
That means wagers could be placed by people who are in a stadium or an arena watching an Iowa college game, as it appears the bill to be considered would legalize wagering on all professional and college sports.
Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled congress cannot prevent states from legalizing sports betting. Kaufmann says that created momentum for the bill.
“I think the consensus has been building for years,” Kaufmann says, “and I think one of the things that was preventing a bill from becoming law in year’s past was the fact that we knew that this Supreme Court ruling was coming down and we didn’t want to preempt them and do something that would then be nullified by a potential ruling.”
Kaufmann and Ehrecke made their comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight on Iowa Public Television.