Online Poker Bill Advances in Iowa

IowaIn recent news New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed an internet gambling bill that would have legalized and regulated online poker in the state of New Jersey. That decision has opened the door for other states in the U.S. such as Iowa, and in February this year the Iowa bill was introduced by Sen. Jeff Danielson.

This week, the Iowa State Government Committee voted 9-6 in favor of a bill that would legalize online poker in the state. Now the the bill will be eligible for a full vote before the Senate and it will also need approval from the Iowa House and the Governor’s signature before it officially becomes law.

The bill would allow Iowa residents to play other Iowans, similar to the new online gambling legislation in France. There is approximately 150,000 people in Iowa who play online poker for real money at offshore online gaming operators like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. According to estimations, its believed the state could profit $40 million annually, making it a huge incentive for lawmakers to move forward with the bill.

Senator Rick Bertrand voted in favor of the bill, believing the state of Iowa was in a race with the government to set up an online gambling framework. Commenting about this, Bertrand said:

“If we don’t make a move now, the Federal Government is going to make a move in the next few years and we’ll lose the revenue,”

If the bill was to pass, it would allow operators to get a license so they could run an online gambling site within the state. Affiliate licenses would be granted to gambling operations currently operating in the state, such as casinos, riverboats, and racetracks.

One of the key provisions of the proposed bill is that gambling operators that have accepted bets from Iowans after the UIGEA was put into effect would not be allowed to get a license, which could potentially restrict sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and PartyPoker from operating within Iowa.

Licensed operators would be required to pay $3 million upfront, which would be credited against future taxes on revenues. Affiliates would be required to pay $250,000 for their license, which would have to be renewed each year to remain licensed.

Gamblers could then register an account at any Iowa casino, which would allow them to deposit funds and play at an online poker table.

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