Government

Industry spokesman criticizes Iowa for not cracking down on online horse wagering violations

Jun 11, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Creator (13) with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., finishes ahead of Destin (2) with jockey Javier
Jun 11, 2016; Elmont, NY, USA; Creator (13) with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., finishes ahead of Destin (2) with jockey Javier Castellano to win the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

WATERLOO — The director of an Iowa horse racing group on Thursday urged the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to take action against unlicensed online horse wagering.

Jon Moss, executive director of the Iowa Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, spoke to commissioners Thursday during a meeting at the Isle Casino and Hotel in Waterloo.

Moss said out-of-state advanced deposit wagering operators who run online horse wagering are violating a state law enacted in 2011 that regulates and taxes online wagering on horse racing.

“It was our understanding at that point in time that illegal operators would come into compliance,” Moss said.

Advance-deposit wagering allows people to go online and bet on race outcomes. Bettors must fund their accounts before placing bets.

After five years and an amendment clarifying the law two years ago, however, such groups continue to operate and take wagers in Iowa, Moss said.

He expressed frustration that neither the commission nor the Iowa Attorney General’s Office have acted in the matter.

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Moss said the law not only requires organizations taking wagers in Iowa to be licensed but also taxes advanced wager activity. Moss said sidestepping that requirement was “more or less tax evasion.”

Jeff Lamberti, chairman of the commission’s board, said the commission and its counsel were aware of the situation. He said little else about the issue except that the legislation is complex.

Moss noted other lawmakers have similar concerns, including Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, who sent a letter to the Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office in November.

In the letter to Miller, Danielson said an internal investigation is currently underway by the Consumer Protection Division of Miller’s office but asked whether a criminal inquiry is underway. He also asked why legal action up to felony charges has not been initiated.

Danielson said by email Wednesday he has not received a response from Miller’s office.

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