2/4/10 – Moves In the state of Iowa to legalise sports betting as a means of raising tax revenues to cut budgetary gaps have made an unexpected move forward with a positive state Senate committee vote, although observers say there’s still a way to go and many obstacles ahead.
The measure that has passed committee would allow betting on professional sports at the state's 17 casinos, reports Associated Press. It now advances to the full Senate State Government Committee.
"We've heard about sports betting since I was a pup," said Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Republican. "It's already legal in many foreign countries. I'm just saying why not Iowa?"
The bill is among several gambling proposals being considered by lawmakers as they look to find money to close a budget shortfall estimated at $400 million or more..
Kibbie argued that underground betting already is common in Iowa, and that the state misses out on potential tax collections.
Only four states — Delaware, Nevada, Oregon and Montana – had laws on the books allowing sports betting when Congress approved a ban on sports betting in 1992. Those states were allowed to continue, but others can't move on the issue unless Congress repeals that ban.
Legislative leaders are already pushing a plan that could generate an additional $25 million by charging casinos a fee to avoid referendums now required to maintain their licenses. The proposal also allows an expansion of areas in casinos where gambling is allowed.
Critics said they were leery of expanding gambling, considering how many options already were available in Iowa.
"We've got ample gambling in this state," said Sen. James Seymour, the Republican representative from Woodbine. "I'm opposed to expanded gambling."
Seymour, who voted for the plan in the subcommittee meeting, said he might oppose it later.