02/23/2012 : IOWA POKER LEGALISATION CLEARS ANOTHER HURDLE
Key Senate committee approves Danielson bill 11-4
Iowa state Sen. Jeff Danielson's proposal to legalise intrastate online poker kept on rolling Wednesday, passing through the key Senate State Government Committee on an 11-4 vote.
The successful committee vote Wednesday evening means that the online poker issue will remain on the legislative agenda having met the criteria necessary to survive Friday's “funnel” deadline for measures to clear a standing committee in either chamber to remain alive this session.
Danielson's Senate Study Bill 3164 had earlier this week passed a sub-committee thanks to support from other Senators motivated by a desire to protect Iowans, ensure the state was strongly positioned for internet poker, raise tax revenues, and the recent change of policy on the Wire Act by federal enforcement officials.
In Wednesday's vote the 4 negative votes were cast by three Republicans and one Democrat.
SSB 3164 proposes that the state Racing and Gaming Commission be tasked with establishing a structure whereby competing hub operators would partner with state-licensed casinos to provide access to safe online poker sites for registered players ages 21 and older located within Iowa’s borders at the time they engaged in the Internet-based activity.
Out-of-state residents would be able to visit to an Iowa casino, establish an account and play online during the time they were residing in Iowa under the bill, which also authorises inter-state compacts
“I don’t see this as an expansion of gambling,” said Sen. Rick Bertrand during discussion on the bill. “I see this as an expansion of freedom.”
Other senators supporting the bill pointed out that illegal offshore gambling operations are already offering online poker that generates up to $100 million in wagers from Iowa residents in what they claimed was an unregulated, “wild, wild West” environment.
“We have a situation in Iowa where Iowa citizens are not being protected. This will do that,” said Sen. Bill Dix, adding that bringing the activity under state regulation would halt unscrupulous operations from “preying on Iowans.”
Sen. Danielson reiterated his contention that Iowa currently is in an untenable situation where online poker is neither prohibited nor regulated. He said the structure envisioned in his measure would bring a thoughtful policy to a problem, enable the state to bar anyone associated with illegal gambling operations from doing business in Iowa, and capture economic activity currently leaving the state while generating revenue via state fees charged to hub operators and an expected rise in revenue from state-licensed operations.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told media reporters that online poker had a 50-50 chance of winning approval by the full state Senate; odds that he speculated were better than the prospects that the issue may receive in the Republican-controlled state House.