Sports Betting

Tom Baldwin of Paint Creek, W.Va., tries to download the new online sports betting application onto his smart phone shortly after the official ribbon cutting opening of the sportsbook betting app at Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in Nitro, W.Va., in December.

DES MOINES — Whether sports betting becomes legal in Iowa now rests with Gov. Kim Reynolds.

A proposal to legalize betting on professional and college athletics — and daily fantasy sports — gained approval in the Iowa House on Monday.

Already passed in the Iowa Senate, the plan now heads to the governor’s desk for her consideration.

The governor’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Monday evening. Reynolds is scheduled to host a press conference with Statehouse reporters today.

The plan approved by state lawmakers would legalize betting on professional and college athletics and on daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. Bets could be placed in Iowa’s state-run casinos or online, and the industry would be regulated by the state agency that polices casinos and race tracks. Casinos would pay annual fees and revenue would be taxed.

The proposal does not allow in-game bets — known commonly as proposition or prop bets — on college athletics.

Supporters of the bill said Iowans are already betting on sports, and the state should legalize gambling so it can be regulated and taxed.

“Right now there is a rampant black market going on where tens of millions of Americans are betting on sports and fantasy (sports), and they do not currently have the legal right to do so. I believe this is a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, who shepherded the measure through the House.

“I believe sticking our head in the sand and doing nothing is not an option.”

Opponents cited concerns about yet another expansion of gambling and the problems that could be caused by gambling addiction as well as the potential for the corruption of Iowa’s college athletics.

Rep. Andy McKean, R-Anamosa, was in the Legislature when the state first legalized gambling in 1983. He noted the multiple expansions since.

“This bill is just a continuation of this trend, and to say it is not an expansion of gambling and bringing it out of the shadows is just window dressing,” McKean said.

The House vote did not fall along party lines; 38 Republicans voted yes and 16 no; 29 Democrats voted yes and 15 no.

Among Cedar Valley-area lawmakers voting in favor: Timi Brown-Powers, D-Waterloo; Rep. Bob Kressig, D-Cedar Falls; Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo; and Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford.

Voting no: Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville; And Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City.

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State house reporter for The Courier/Lee Enterprises.

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