New Gambling Bill to Legalise DFS in the State of Iowa

A new proposal may see fantasy sports legalized in the state of Iowa. If passaged, the bill would place fantasy sports corporations such as DraftKings and FanDuel under the regulation of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission; the commission is already in charge of issuing and overseeing taxes and fees for their brick-and-mortar casinos.

The multibillion dollar fantasy sports industry has shot to popularity over the last few years; television advertisements for DraftKings and FanDuel aired during the professional football season have also aided in the rise of their national recognition.

A long process

The lawmakers in Iowa have been trying to address the issue of legalisation of fantasy sports for over four years. At a hearing on Tuesday, a proposal was issued taking into consideration the contribution from many stakeholders; State Representative, Jake Highfill, commented “The concessions both sides have made have been good.”

While representatives of DraftKings, FanDuel and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association have expressed support for the Iowa proposal at the hearing, many casinos and social advocacy groups have voiced their opposition.

Some groups are not happy

Casino representatives did commend placing fantasy sport wagering under the State Gaming Commission but called for equal taxes and regulation on their ventures as faced by their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Unlike physical casinos, the proposed laws do not subject online wagering sites to the same high rates of taxation; they are also not expected to donate a fixed percentage of their income to non-profit causes, unlike the land based wagering establishments. Representative of Wild Rose Entertainment, which owns casinos in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson, Jeff Boeyink, stated that the tax policy is clearly a disadvantage for the existing casinos in Iowa.

Many others are simply opposed to the bill because they believe passage of such a legislation could increase gambling addiction in the state. A study conducted by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research for the state Department of Public Health have determined that one in five residents in Iowa are at-risk gamblers; state representative, Dan Kelley, mentioned that the state of Iowa does very little to help members of the public suffering from gambling addiction and he is confident that passage of the bill will lead to more gambling addiction related issues for the state.

Also in Iowa: is it gambling?

However, Senator Jeff Danielson, who has worked on similar legislation, said he liked what he sees in the House proposal; he thinks it is crucial to classify fantasy sports as a game of skill and regulate it as such and hopes the state can pass the bill soon.

There has been much ambiguity regarding the legality of daily fantasy sports all over the nation; while some believe that these fantasy matches should be classified as games of skill, others argue that they are nothing more than a form of illegal gambling.

Nevada and New York have already banned all DFS sites in their states, including the industry leaders FanDuel and DraftKings. Lisa Madigan, Attorney General of Illinois has determined that DFS betting should be considered illegal in the state of Illinois too, but a bill is still pending, which if passaged, would allow operation of these gaming sites in the state. On the other hand, Virginia was the first state to pass a law, on Monday, to legalising and regulate fantasy gaming sites for residents of Virginia.

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