Iowa’s proposed poker legislation has taken another step forward, just days after being approved by a small panel of state senators. The bill, known officially as Senate Study Bill 3164, has now been cleared for a vote before the entire State Senate. This was made possible by an 11-4 small-scale approval just a few days ago.
The matter will be decided sometime over the next couple months, before the close of the group’s current session on April 17. Before making it to the governor’s desk, it would need to clear the Iowa House of Representatives, as well. Iowa’s Senate is under Democratic control, while the House and Governor, Terry Branstad, are both Republican institutions. It should be noted that three of the dissenting votes in the aforementioned 11-4 win came from members of the GOP, so the possibility of a veto or holdup in the House is very real.
Still, optimism remains high. Ever since the failure of New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak’s proposed online gaming laws last year, things have been quiet on the intra-state poker front. This latest effort in the Heartland brings a renewed sense of hope to the table. Still, there are some who are concerned that the introduction of legal online poker could cause a rise in problem gambling. But, as others have pointed out, some citizens are already participating in online gaming. So, other than added security from the government, what would be the difference?
“I don’t see this as an expansion of gambling,” Senator Rick Bertrand told a local TV station. “I see this as an expansion of freedom.”
While that’s certainly a good way to look at things, there is another motivating factor here. As mentioned in our previous coverage of this topic, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has put forth an impressive number in favor of legal online poker. That number, specifically, is $13,000,000. That’s the amount of revenue the state could expect to see, per year, should its citizens be allowed to participate in a regulated system.