DES MOINES, Iowa — On Wednesday the Iowa legislature began what will likely be a long conversation over legalizing sports gambling in Iowa.
A legislative subcommittee considered four separate bills on Wednesday that would legalize betting on professional and collegiate sports. A 2018 US Supreme Court ruling lifted the federal moratorium on the activity.
Delaware was the first state to take advantage of the ruling and begin taking bets on sports. Their system allows sports gambling at casinos as well as at lottery locations across the state. The Iowa Lottery supports a bill that would do the same thing here.
The Iowa Lottery says it has all of the infrastructure in place already to allow for small bets to be taken at retailers. They says offering gambling at retailers across the state will spread out tax dollars to all 99 counties, not just those with casinos.
The Iowa Gaming Association was among those speaking out against that plan. They argue that while the state could make millions by allowing gambling it could also lose millions if the enough bettors beat the odds. They say too many people rely on lottery profits to gamble with them.
"The New Jersey sports book in this most recent Super Bowl lost money," Wes Ehrecke, President of the Iowa Gaming Association, told lawmakers, "Should we put the state's money that they do provide for a lot of worthwhile aspects from the veterans trust fund to the education general fund, et cetera, at risk? There's a volatility that should be in the casinos."
The Iowa Lottery says it is fully aware of the risks involved in all gaming and they are confident they know what they are doing.
"There is risk inherent in any type of gaming," Rob Porter, Vice President and General Counsel for the Iowa Lottery, "Whether it is large orders of scratch tickets, whether you operate a Lotto game or your operate sports gaming. The Iowa Lottery has proven over 30 years that we can successfully manage risk and we will continue to do that."
None of the four bills discussed on Wednesday advanced but all remain open for discussion.