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IOWA ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION BILL STILL IN PLAY
Posted 3/30/11 : Danielson bill beats legislative deadline
It may have stalled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee for want of more briefings, but the proposed legalisation of online poker in the state of Iowa has made the legislative deadline of April 1st and remains in play, the committee confirmed Tuesday.
Senate File 458, introduced recently by Sen. Jeff Danielson, is facing some tough opposition but is still in contention, sources told Source Media this week. The bill will not be subject to the Legislature’s self-imposed deadline for policy bills to be approved by the House or Senate, and a committee of the other chamber by Friday to remain eligible for consideration this year.
The measure is now awaiting action by the Senate Ways and Means Committee due to a fee provision – which qualifies it for the exemption given to budget and taxation measures.
Nevertheless, there is still political opposition to overcome.
Sen. Bill Dotzler told SourceMedia: “My understanding is that it’s real close, but that there aren’t enough votes at this time until certain things get addressed. People’s concerns are legitimate and we need time to address them. Right now I would say the odds are probably not for this year.”
Introducer, Sen. Jeff Danielson, said it’s too early to say whether his bill can attract the 26 Senate votes needed to move it to the House. The seriousness of the social and economic policies at play are such that the bill can’t be rushed and any perceived loopholes will have to be addressed if the measure is to garner support, he opined.
Showing a lack of knowledge on online gambling which perhaps indicates a real need for more political briefing, Ways and Means Committee member Sen. Randy Feenstra, said he was against the measure, explaining: “I’m adamantly opposed to Internet gambling and I really don’t want any part of that. If any part of Internet gambling is in the bill, I will not be voting to move it out of committee.
“I’ve done the research on Internet gambling and it’s not pretty. There’s a reason why no state in the nation has taken it upon themselves to do this. It’s got the highest addiction rate of anything.”
Senators Rob Hogg and Swati Dandekar showed their cards, saying they won’t vote for the gambling measure, and committee chairman Sen. Joe Bolkcom said he won’t schedule committee consideration unless backers have the votes to pass it.
“It’s not clear whether they do or not,” Bolkcom said. “I don’t know what its fate is at this point.”
Sen. Merlin Bartz said the measure contains some vexing loopholes and is built on assumptions that it will generate $30 million in new revenue to the state and clean up online operations.
“I have some real reservations about an expansion of gaming in the state based upon premises that we can’t substantiate,” he told SourceMedia.
Senator Dotzler summed up the current position, saying: “There are problems with this bill, but the whole concept is we are looking at trying to stop an illegal activity, put some safeguards and some controls in it, and at the same time capture revenue that has been escaping not only from our states but out of the country.
“I think it’s time to control and put safeguards on this Internet gambling because it’s just going to continue to expand and we’re going to have to face the issue sooner or later. Maybe the federal government does it but I think it’s wise for us to move forward with this and try to continue to work on this whether it’s this year or next year.”
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