Saturday October 8, 2011 : Significant numbers of Iowans gamble online, study finds.
 
Earlier this year the state Legislature delayed debate on the passage of an internet gambling legalization bill to 2012, but interest remains high in the project.
 
A new study conducted by the University of Northern Iowa has shown that regardless of whether the Iowa Legislature authorises Internet poker in the 2012 session, significant numbers of Iowans currently are and likely will continue to gamble online, if necessary at illegal offshore sites.
 
About 5 percent of adult respondents confirmed they had gambled on the internet, with 2 percent saying they have done so within the past 12 months, the UNI’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research reported to lawmakers.
 
Among Iowa’s youth, an estimated 4 percent of students in sixth, eighth and 11th grades said they had “bet or gambled for money or possessions” on the Internet over the past year.
 
The researchers concluded that making an exact determination about the size and scope of potential social and public health impacts exclusively attributable to Internet poker is not currently possible.
 
The UNI report, presented to state health officials late last week, was requested earlier this year by Iowa lawmakers, who plan to consider legalising Internet poker within the state’s borders during the legislative session that convenes in January 2012.
 
The Des Moines Register newspaper reports that the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is working on a separate report on the feasibility of establishing a regulatory framework for intrastate Internet poker, the results of which are to be submitted by December 1, 2011 to further inform the coming debate.
 
In an apparently contradictory result, a Des Moines Register Iowa Poll in January showed that 73 percent of Iowans were opposed to online gambling. Only 23 percent were in favour, and 4 percent were not sure.
 
Jack Ketterer, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, told the newspaper this week that the Commission would not be making a recommendation to state lawmakers one way or the other.
 
“I see our role as trying to bring the legislature up to speed on potential regulatory questions and concerns, which are changing on almost a daily  basis because of rapid development of Internet policy issues," Ketterer observed.