March 03, 2011

Online gambling bill presented in Iowa

A Senate study bill to examine the possibility of regulating online gambling in the state of Iowa will be put before a committee headed by Democrat Senator Jeff Danielson.

Following local media reports yesterday, and just two days before New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is due to announce his judgement on his own state’s proposed legislation, the Iowa legislature released a copy of Senate Study Bill 1165, described as an act “relating to [regulating] certain forms of gambling including horse racing, pari-mutuel wagering, gambling games and intrastate internet poker, creating regulatory and tax structures and providing penalties”.

The bill will need to first pass a committee vote by the end of this week, go through the state legislature’s two houses before then going to Governor Terry Branstad in order for it to become law. Lobby groups have suggested the bill – if successful – could help generate as much as US$35m in annual revenues for the state.

Under the terms of Iowa’s bill, online poker hub operators would be required to pay an annual fee of US$250,000 for a licence, as well as a one-off fee of $3m upon the receipt of any licence, although this would ultimately be credited against the ‘gross receipts’ taxes incorporated into the bill. Hubs could only be provided by organisations already running a land based casino, an authorised gambling boat, or a racetrack enclosure within the state’s boundaries, the bill said. Hub operator licences would last five years and could be renewed for further five-year periods, it added.

Contrary to earlier suggestions, players would not be forced to attend gambling establishments in person to open accounts. The bill states that accounts may be registered “in person, by mail, telephone, or by electronic means”

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