Iowa lawmakers to consider new iGaming bill, vote expected in 2024

Iowa lawmakers to consider new iGaming bill, vote expected in 2024

A new iGaming bill seeking to permit online slot machines and table games has been introduced in Iowa, but state lawmakers have no plans to approve it anytime soon.

State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) introduced House Study Bill 227 (HSB 227), stressing that the legislation would bring a lot merits for the state and its residents. However, there will not be a vote on the iGaming bill in 2023.

The bill has already been directed to the Iowa Assembly’s House Ways & Means Committee, which is being chaired by Kaufmann. The Republican representative has pronounced that he has introduced the bill simply to keep the conversation current. He stressed that progress on the new bill would not occur until there’s a consensus among current gaming operators.

The new bill is a clone of HSB 604, which was introduced by Kaufmann during Iowa’s 2022 legislative session. Thus, the new bill carries on the Republican representative’s effort to initiate a meaningful discussion about whether the state should opt for further expansion of gambling by including iGaming in the form of online slots and table games.

At present, Iowa is home to a total of nineteen riverboat and land-based casinos, which offer slot machines, table game, and sportsbooks. Addition of online slot machines and table games will further expand the state’s gaming market.

However, the odds of further expansion of gaming in the state anytime soon seem to be very low because the state’s current regulated gaming operators recently convinced lawmakers to place a moratorium on new licenses. In June last year, Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill that prevents the state from issuing new gaming licenses until at least July 1, 2024.
Casino operators argue that stability is required in the wake of the Covd-19 pandemic and opening of casinos in the neighboring state of Nebraska.

Speaking on the topic, Senate Major Leader Jack Whitver (R-Polk) said, “Over the last few years, there have been a lot of changes to our gaming laws in the state of Iowa. So, there’s a little, maybe a lot, of gaming fatigue within the Capitol.”

Kaufmann’s iGaming bill suggests that already licensed casinos should be authorized to operate online interactive slot machines and table games. In simple words, only Iowa’s already licensed casinos would qualify to operate online gaming, of course if the bill clears all hurdles.

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