There’s a lot of talk across the nation regarding the legalization of sports betting. It’s piqued the interest of a lot of states, Iowa included.

Sports betting is rampant now, only a lot of it is being conducted illegally. The legalization of sports betting could be a boon to state economies that could use the influx of revenue for infrastructure costs or other needs as they see fit.

In 1992, the federal professional and amateur sports protection act was passed, making sports betting illegal in all but a few states. The law has been challenged by New Jersey and the issue was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court — which is now mulling a decision.

Last month, Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association, addressed the issue.

“I think there’s a great deal of interest among people (who want) the opportunity to bet on a game and do it in a regulated environment,” he said. “If and when this were to be passed, to have that opportunity to provide this opportunity in Iowa, I think a lot of people have a great deal of interest in sports and betting on sports.”

It’s not a new concept.

In 2010, Iowa Democratic Senators Jack Kibbie and Steve Sodders submitted separate proposals to the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission to offer sports betting at racetracks and casinos.

They estimated sports wagering could generate $100 million annually for the state.

“We think that we ought to be able to regulate that here and have sports betting if Iowa desired to do that in our casinos, Sodders said back in 2010. “Why not let them do that betting here than in other states that are getting the revenue for that?”

Good question. It’s as legitimate now as it was eight years ago.

Back then, their proposal was accompanied by the understanding it would someday have to be approved by the federal government.

That day could be getting close.

Should the Supreme Court decision allow states to decide, it’s a good bet it won’t take long for most them to legalize sports wagering.

The Associated Press recently reported a study by the California research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated a total of 32 states would legalize sports wagering within five years of a favorable Supreme Court ruling for the states.

Here in the Cedar Valley, the Black Hawk County Gaming Association, as the nonprofit holder of the Isle Casino’s Hotel gaming license, distributes 5.75 percent of the casino’s adjusted gross revenues for community projects in Black Hawk and several surrounding counties. Since that revenue stream was initiated, the BHCGA has been able to invest nearly $40 million into the many communities that make up the Cedar Valley.

Legalized sports betting could bring more people to the local casino, in effect, scoring a win for the area.

Or sports betting could take place in other public spaces — similar to how Iowa Lottery products are purchased.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Corbett has gone on record saying he’d prefer legalized sports betting be conducted via Iowa Lottery online apps, but would also consider it being conducted at state-licensed casinos in the sports book style, similar how it’s done in Las Vegas — or both.

There is an obvious desire for many fans to have a legal way to wager on professional sports. Media outlets routinely publish sports betting lines and point spreads. Why? Because people read them. People look them up. And people, whether legally or illegally, use them.

There are plenty of issues the individual states would have to discuss in making sure the proper regulation is in place. But the ability to leverage revenue via this opportunity shouldn’t be availed to some states and denied to others.

It’s time states should be able to make their own decisions on legalized sports bettin and weigh their own pros and cons on the matter.


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