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If a group of Iowa State Congressmen gets its way, gaming sites and FTR members won’t be the only ones making money from online poker.

If passed, the Congressmen’s plan would make Iowa the first state in the nation to allow and regulate in-state online poker and sports betting — bringing an estimated $11.5 million per year to the state in the process.

The plan would allow any casino in Iowa to create an online poker network that players could access from a home computer. As a regulation measure, the players would be required to physically go to a casino to open an account or make a deposit, but are not required to stay at the casino to play.

The proposal is described as a rational response to the popularity of out-of-country gambling sites, which take millions of dollars out of the state every year. Rep. Doug Struyk, R-Council Bluffs, said that the plan would not cause people to spend more money on poker because “these dollars are already going offshore.”

Another proponent of the plan, Brian Quirk, D-New Hampton, said “look, either we’re a gambling state, or we’re not, and with 17 casinos, I’d say we’re a gambling state.” Quirk urged fellow congressmen to approve the plan rather than continue to allow Iowans to send money out of the country.

The proposal may get a hearing in the Souse State Government Committee as early as next week. If a bill eventually passes the legislature, Iowa’s proposed regulations could set an example for other gambling states, and perhaps even the federal government.