Government

Corbett poll shows Iowans support legalizing sports betting

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett talks to the media after a meeting of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission at the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett talks to the media after a meeting of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission at the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — GOP gubernatorial hopeful Ron Corbett says he’s not the only one who wants to legalize — and reap revenue from — sports betting, and he has a poll to back up his claim.

Corbett, the immediate past mayor of Cedar Rapids, has released results of an online poll showing 70 percent backed legalized sports betting. Another 24 percent were opposed and 6 percent weren’t sure.

His campaign said 850 people completed the poll and it was shared thousands of times through social media.

Corbett is challenging Gov. Kim Reynolds, who succeeded Terry Branstad when he resigned in May to become ambassador to China. Steven Ray of Boone also is seeking the Republican nomination.

Legalizing sports betting is contingent on the United States Supreme Court ruling that states have the authority to oversee the wagering without the approval of the federal government.

Some states have pre-emptively passed sports betting laws to be ready if the court rules in their favor. The Iowa Legislature, which has discussed but never approved online poker or fantasy sports betting, has not considered sports betting proposals this year, but casino interests reportedly are drafting a proposal.

Corbett has cited independent projections suggesting the state could collect about $13 million annually from a casino-run approach or about $24 million if sports betting was overseen by the Iowa Lottery.

Iowans were split 39 percent to 37 percent between having casino-run sports betting and having the Iowa Lottery managing it.

Corbett polled Iowans because he wants the public to be engaged in conversations about the future of the state.

“I think top-down decision making is bad governing,” Corbett said, citing the closure of two mental health institutes as top-down decisions that have exacerbated strains on the mental health system.

More than half, 54 percent, of respondents to Corbett’s poll said the proceeds should be used to expand access to mental health services. Twenty-two percent rejected that and 24 percent were unsure.

“Iowans understand the problem, and based on these survey results, we see they are willing to support an out-of-the box idea to begin solving the mental health crisis in our state,” Corbett said.

The poll is indicative of his style of governing, Corbett said in announcing the poll results.

“By putting this idea out there … I started a conversation,” he said. “That’s the kind of governor I’ll be. I’m not afraid to put a new idea on the table, ask fellow Iowans to weigh in, and get the conversation started. Iowans generally aren’t afraid to tell you what they think.”

For more on Corbett, visit www.roncorbett.com.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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