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Iowa casinos eyeing sports gambling legislation in 2019

The Iowa Gaming Association said the non-profit is working on a bill to legalize sports gambling in the 2019 legislative session in wake of the Supreme Court decision Monday striking down a federal ban on sports wagering.

Some lawmakers gave their best bets at the capitol, trying to approve legislation to bring sports gambling to Iowa this past legislative session to no avail.

But with the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a federal ban on sports betting in states across the country Monday, that could change in 2019 and advocates for bringing sports wagering to Iowa say they are hopeful.

“This is certainly a game changer," said Wes Erechke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association, which represents Iowa's 19 commercial casinos across the state.

“Illegal activity that has flourished for many years would continue to do so without this so it’s not like we’re expanding gambling, we’re trying to regulate it," he said.

He pushed for sports betting legislation this past session, but the measure didn't make it out of a House subcommittee. Some lawmakers were hesitant to pass a bill with no official word from the Supreme Court.

But the new ruling could change the coversation when lawmakers return in January, Erechke said.

"[Now] that that hurdle has been cleared, [it] gives more certainty, more urgency," said Erechke.

Erechke gave input on that proposal, aimed at allowing Iowans to gamble at casinos in person or online and on their smartphones.

Erechke says he’ll work with lawmakers in both chambers, on both sides of the aisle, in the legislative off-season, bringing new ideas and using the previous bill as a template.

It's unclear how much more revenue sports betting will bring to the state if brought into the Iowa gaming fold. Right now, gaming revenue totals over $320 million, most of that money funding infrastructure projects across the state.



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