state capitol building stock

The State Capitol Building's golden dome makes it easy to spot when nearing Iowa's largest city. 

A new intersection of sports and money is coming to Iowa. Legislation that would legalize sports betting across the state has been approved by the Iowa Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.

Last year, the Supreme Court lifted a prohibition of sports wagering across the nation and states have since begun to legalize the practice. Sen. Roby Smith, the sponsor of the Iowa bill, said the motivation for introducing the bill was to bring the currently underground world of sports betting into the sunlight with the reasoning that legalization would help to make any problems less severe.

“People are already doing sports wagering here in Iowa … the genesis behind it was to bring those people out of the shadows into a regulated environment,” Smith said.

The issue will now go to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission which will makes rules about how the process works.

Brian Ohorilko, the administrator of the commission provided basic details on what to expect. He said anyone who wishes to participate in betting must be at least 21 years old. This is true for other betting events in Iowa, such as horse racing or gambling.

Sports betting will take place in two formats: in any of Iowa’s 19 casinos or online. If someone wishes to bet online, they will have to go to a casino first to provide proof of their age. Once completed, Ohorilko expects that individuals will be able to bet from their phones. Other rules may be applied by the gaming commission but likely won’t ready until July 4 at the earliest.

In terms of what can be bet on, almost any sport applies; however, athletics at the university level will have extra regulation.

“There was a concern for college athletes that they may be more susceptible to bribes if sports wagering was legal” Ohorilko said.

It will be illegal to participate with in-play wagering for college athletics because the student athletes aren’t making money in their sports. In-play wagering means live betting on what result a particular play will produce. Concerns are that an athlete could be bribed to produce a certain result to win a bet.

Nevertheless, gambling on the outcome of any game will still be legal. For example, wagering on the final outcome of the Iowa State vs. Iowa football game would be allowed. Betting on whether or not Connor Assalley will make the current field goal would be illegal.

Economically speaking, Ohorilko and Smith agree that a 6.75% tax on all sports betting will generate some revenue for the state, but only about $2-4 million.

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