Kaufmann ‘Confident’ Iowa Governor Will Sign Sports Betting Bill Into Law

Posted on: April 23, 2019, 02:29h. 

Last updated on: April 24, 2019, 11:41h.

Iowa is poised to become the 12th state to legalize sports betting as a bill is now on the way to the governor’s desk.

Iowa state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (standing) was the House sponsor of a bill to legalize sports betting at the state’s 22 casinos. A Senate version of the bill passed the House on Monday and now awaits Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature to become law. She has not yet said if she will sign it.  (Image: Stephen Gruber-Miller/The Des Moines Register)

By a 67-31 margin on Monday, the Iowa House of Representative passed the Senate’s version of a bill that would open the door for sports betting at the state’s 22 casinos. The state would collect a 6.75 percent tax on the profits from the 19 establishments not on tribal land.

Last week, the bill passed the Senate in a 31-18 vote.

The bill now goes to Gov. Kim Reynolds. During her successful election campaign last year, she did not indicate whether she supported or opposed the sports betting.

According to Iowa Public Radio, she kept her cards close to herself after Monday’s vote as well.

“My policy team and I will sit down, and we’ll review the bill at hand and we’ll make a decision,” Reynolds said.

If Reynolds signs the bill into law, sports betting will begin on July 4 across the state.

Currently, sports betting is legal in Nevada, New Mexico, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. According to the American Gaming Association, the District of Columbia, New York, Arkansas, and Oregon have passed either legislation or referendums on sports betting, but it’s not operational in those areas yet.

Impressed by Support

State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, told Casino.org on Tuesday that he was surprised by the bipartisan support the measure received. As the main sponsor of the House’s bill, he expected to get a supporting vote tally in the “mid-50s” and not the nearly 70 votes the bill garnered.

He has not had a chance to speak directly with Reynolds, but he said he spoke with a governor’s staff member who said Reynolds would seriously consider the legislation.

I’m very, very confident that she’s going to sign it,” Kaufmann said.

Kaufmann and state Sen. Roby Smith (R-Davenport) worked together to iron out any conflicts between their bills.

Initial licenses for the sportsbooks will cost $45,000 with annual renewals costing $10,000. In addition, sportsbooks will be permitted to create online and mobile applications. However, consumers must register for an account at a participating casino during the first 18 months.

“I’m glad it’s over,” said a relieved Kaufmann. “I’ve been working on this since December.”

Partnerships Already Forming

Even before the legislature took up sports betting, at least Iowa casino signed an agreement with a sportsbook. In January, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, located just outside of Des Moines, announced a deal with William Hill to build an 8,600-square foot sportsbook on the venue’s fourth floor.

On Monday, hours before the House vote, Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington announced a partnership with PointsBet. According to a joint statement, the companies plan a sportsbook centrally located in the Catfish Bend casino. It will feature a far, a multiscreen video and odds wall, and additional gaming machines.

“The potential legalization of sports betting in Iowa opens an exciting new opportunity for recreational and avid players,” said Gary Hoyer, CEO of Catfish Bend-owner Great River Entertainment, in a statement.

If Iowa legalizes sports betting, the state will become the second U.S. market for the company. PointsBet opened an online sportsbook in New Jersey in January.