DES MOINES — Iowa bettors would not be allowed to make in-game “prop” wagers on contests involving Iowa athletes, their colleges or their opponents under a change expected to be approved Wednesday by a House committee — a change backers say will boost the chances of sports gambling becoming legal in Iowa.
The agreement to limit the in-game proposition bets in legislation seeking to authorize betting on professional and college sporting events and on daily fantasy sports was designed to address a concern raised by officials representing state universities and colleges in Iowa, said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, a backer of House File 648.
Kaufmann said he is confident the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has the wherewithal to police such betting that usually involves small wagering amounts on things like whether the first free throw of a basketball game is successful or if a player scores a certain number of points.
But he said he agreed to make the change out of “political reality” in attempting to forge a bipartisan coalition that can get the bill to the governor’s desk.
Keith Saunders, a legislative liaison who represents the University of Iowa and the Board of Regents, told a subcommittee this week the concern is for protecting the integrity of college athletes. The state universities were registered as undecided on the bill but Saunders expressed support for the amendment to limit “in play” betting on individual players, Iowa-based teams and their opponents.
Kaufmann said he expected the overall bill, which contains a 6.75 percent tax on revenue, to be taken up Wednesday in the House Ways and Means Committee. Backers envision a system where Iowa residents at least 21 years old initially are required to establish a sports betting account in person at a state casino.
Wes Ehrecke, president and chief executive of the Iowa Gaming Association, which represents the state’s casinos, said his members supported the amendment to remove in-game bets on in-state players or their opposing teams.
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Opponents of the legislation, including faith-based groups, said they do not support any form of gambling expansion in Iowa because of the potential for addiction.
Kaufmann expressed optimism that lawmakers will send Gov. Kim Reynolds a sports gambling bill yet this session, but Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, a Ways and Means Committee member, described the situation in the GOP-led House as “a little fluid right now.”
“It will be a bipartisan bill if it comes out of this chamber,” he noted.
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