Iowa Lottery CEO expects 'huge discussion' on sports betting

Legislature likely to take up issue this session

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The chief executive officer of the Iowa Lottery expects fantasy sports and sports betting in general to be considered this year by the Iowa Legislature.

“I think there’s going to be a huge discussion,” Terry Rich said Friday in Cedar Rapids. “The beauty of having the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and the Iowa Lottery as state agencies is that the people get to decide, which are the elected officials.

“If the Legislature decides that it wants to allow a certain type of gaming and that it’s best served under our jurisdiction, we will take it. If it’s best served under the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission or the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals, that’s also great.”

With the recent explosion of fantasy sports websites such as DraftKings and FanDuel, some states are weighing whether the industry should be regulated. New York and Nevada have banned the sites as illegal gambling. Some other states are considering options for legislation.

The Iowa Senate last year passed a bill that legalized and defined fantasy sports and directed the Department of Inspections and Appeals to study the issue. The bill has not been taken up by the House.

Rich said he will offer input to the Legislature on how fantasy sports betting would likely affect lottery sales.

Besides fantasy sports, Rich said the Legislature also may need to consider the use of computers and smartphones to play the Iowa Lottery or other forms of gaming.

“We already have the legal authority to do that,” he said. “It’s a social impact decision by elected officials to tell us when they believe we are ready for it.

“Gaming is one of the few things that you can’t do on your cellphone. I think the fear in the past has been that gaming would be too accessible on the Internet and people would spend all their money.”

Rich said the arrest of Edward Tipton, a former security official with the Multi-State Lottery Association, is evidence that the system’s checks and balances will catch potential fraud.

Prosecutors said Tipton tampered with lottery equipment, enabling him to manipulate the outcome of the Dec. 29, 2010, Hot Lotto drawing.

“Ultimately, our security procedures caught him,” Rich said.

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