According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa legislators are considering a bill which would legalize online poker for residents of the Hawkeye State.
Under current estimates, approximately 150,000 Iowa residents currently engage in online real-money poker. If regulation were to pass, it is believed that the taxes generated by this crowd could range from $30 to $35 million.
Not surprisingly, several of the state’s largest casinos have come out in favor of such measures. Iowa Gaming Association president Wes Ehrecke has confirmed that many of the establishments overseen by his organization are interested, though they have not yet read the actual bill. He also confirmed that this is something of a slippery slope for casinos, who are seeking to increase revenue while at the same time avoiding additional taxation.
Said Kirk Uhler, VP of government affairs for U.S. Digital Gaming, “What is driving this is the recognition that you have an existing activity that’s already taking place in an unregulated environment, and the revenue is all flowing overseas.” Should regulation come into being, his California-based company would be one of those bidding for the rights to operate the Iowa’s poker network.
As currently proposed, Iowans could register for state-licensed poker accounts by mail, telephone, online, or in person at a casino. Usership would be granted only to state residents and would not carry outside the borders.
Like in New Jersey, Iowa legislators would need to take extra steps to prevent underage gamblers from taking part in this new privilege. One senator, perhaps unaware of the potential benefits, has already stated that the talk of the need for safeguards has “given [him] pause.”
Similar bills are already under consideration in both Florida and California. New Jersey residents are waiting to see whether or not their governor will sign their bill into law, after which the national poker scene will have a clearer picture of the future of the game.