Monday March 16,2015 : IOWA MOVES FORWARD ON FANTASY SPORTS LEGALISATION
Senate approves legalization bill in 32 to 16 vote that sends measure to the House.
Iowa residents will soon have far more clarity on the legality of daily fantasy sports betting following the approval of bill SF166 by the state Senate on a 32 – 16 vote this week. The bill now moves to the state House of Assembly.
The Des Moines Register reports that Congress exempted fantasy gaming as games of skill (and therefore not gambling) under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, but in Iowa and some other states, payouts for fantasy sports can be either illegal or subject to ambiguous laws.
"We are in legal limbo. We have never clearly defined what are fantasy sports in Iowa," said Sen. Jeff Danielson, chairman of the Senate State Government Committee in supporting the bill. "This is not a revenue-generating tool. This is about getting the policy right."
The Senate legalization also permits Iowa land casinos to offer fantasy sports with cash pay-outs. But casinos would still be banned from allowing gamblers to bet on athletic events like the Super Bowl and the NCAA basketball play-offs.
Despite these apparently conflicting policies, fantasy gaming is offered through major US league sports websites, as well as through ESPN, Yahoo and other online content providers.
The Register claims that an estimated 354,000 Iowans participate in the games in an industry that generates $800 million per year nationally, quoting the Wisconsin-based Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
Forty-four states allow players to accept prizes and cash, Danielson said.
Sen. Tony Bisignano supported the legalization, but he warned that lawmakers should be wary of future developments.
"As they always say, follow the money," Bisignano said. "Somebody is going to make tens of billions of dollars in this friendly little game that has caught on all over the country."
Other senators expressed reservations that legalization may in reality constitute an expansion of gambling in the state, observing that there was money, reward and quick turnover in daily games in fantasy sports, making it very similar to betting on the real thing.