Gambling Bill With Additional Sports Wagers, Esports Passed By House

Written By Matthew Kredell on March 8, 2022
gambling bill

The Iowa House of Representatives passed a gambling bill last week that would expand sports wagers in the state.

House File 2497 would add electronic sports, the NFL Draft, player awards and charitable sports events to allowable sports wagers. It passed by a vote of 71-28.

The bill advances to the Senate, where it was assigned to the State Government Committee.

Details of Iowa gambling bill

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann introduced HF 2497 at the behest of the Iowa Gaming Association. The bill includes a variety of gambling changes wanted by casinos:

  • Allow wagering on esports.
  • Expand authorized sports wagers to include player awards such as the Heisman Trophy, the NFL Draft and charitable sports events with professional athletes.
  • Allow patrons to use eWallets on mobile phones to pay for gaming on the casino floor.
  • Stop fines on errors made by casino employees in checking the self-exclusion registry as well as checking jackpots against debts owed to the state.
  • Remove licensing requirements for non-gaming personnel in hospitality positions.

Daily fantasy sports apps in Iowa already include esports. In 2020, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) approved the wagering on official video game contests for DFS.

However, due to differences in the language of the laws, the Commission rejected a petition by sportsbooks to add esports wagering. Wes Ehrecke of the Iowa Gaming Association tells PlayIA that the IRGC has signed off on leveling the playing field.

“Nationally and globally there is a fairly robust esports fan base,” Ehrecke said. “So I imagine there would be interest in the state if wagering on collegiate and pro esports events are offered.”

Final push for gambling legislation

The bill will find a friendly face in the Senate State Government Committee. Chairman Roby Smith championed the sports betting bill passed by Iowa in 2019.

To continue to the finish line, HF 2497 needs to advance from the committee by March 18.

“We will continue our unified industry effort and discussions on the bill’s provisions with each of the Senators,” Ehrecke said. “I am optimistic there will be the necessary bipartisan support to continue to advance the bill, first through subcommittee, then full committee and finally floor debate.”

If the bill does pass, it won’t take effect until July 1. So Iowa won’t have wagering on the NFL Draft next month.

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Matthew Kredell

Kredell has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Kredell started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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