It was back in 1983 when Iowa legalized pari-mutuel betting on dog and horse racing. Then, in 1991, the state opened the doors of its first casino. More recently, in 2019, Iowa became the 11th US state to launch legal sports wagering.
Will Iowa Expand Online Gambling?
Since 2019, 18 commercial and tribal operators have received a license to offer sports betting. On the other hand, the state has more than a dozen online operators that are licensed to offer the activity. The state has set a tax rate of 6.75% on sports betting revenue, while an initial license fee is set at $45,000 and a renewal fee of $10,000 is also applicable annually.
While all of this sounds well, now, Iowa may further expand gambling to offer full-scale online operations. According to Iowa Gaming Association’s president, Wes Ehrecke, who recently spoke to Axios, a push to expand online gambling in the state may be underway.
Although some of the members of the Association support that idea, according to him, it is too early to determine if the it will gain traction. Ehrecke stressed that even if that happens, legislative approval would be necessary during next year’s season.
Expanding Online Gambling May Impact Casinos, Sportsbooks
Currently, Iowa receives tax proceedings from land-based, riverboat venues and online sports betting operations. If we add full-scale online gambling, that would undoubtedly boost the tax revenue that is flowing to the state’s coffers. Moreover, online gambling operations will also create new workplaces, which may help quite a few people considering the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last but not least, supporters of the online gambling expansion claim that it will also bring technological innovations to Iowa.
However, there’s a downside to expanding gambling in the state. Brick-and-mortar venues that employ thousands of people fear that such online gambling expansion may result in a decline in revenue. Ultimately, this may also impact the annual tax revenue that casinos pay every year. After all, more than $6 billion in tax revenue was raised by casinos in Iowa since 1991.
Moreover, a possible online gambling expansion may also impact the revenue of legal sports betting operators in the state. Whatever the case is, expanding online gambling in Iowa remains in the hands of lawmakers. Whether or not that will happen, the picture may seem clearer toward the beginning of the legislative season.