Iowa May Be Out of 2024 Running to Legalize Online Casino Gambling

Iowa may not legalize online casino gambling this year, state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann told Bonus on Jan. 24. However, HSB227 remains active.

Kaufmann, R-Wilton, informed Bonus:

I am a supporter but I do not think the votes are there this year. The industry is continuing to educate people.

On March 8, 2023, Kaufmann introduced HSB227. On March 21, 2023, a House Ways and Means Committee subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. Most testimony opposed the proposed legislation to legalize online casino gambling.

The next day, the subcommittee returned the measure to the parent committee “without recommendation.”

Kaufmann told Bonus on Jan. 24:

Last year’s bill still exists. So, yes, I do not plan to introduce it again.

Why Not Legalize Online Casino Gambling?

Even when the bill was more active last year, Kaufmann said its purpose was to get the conversation going about legalizing iGaming in Iowa.

Legal gambling couldn’t happen before July 1, 2024, anyway. Bonus News Managing Editor Alex Weldon noted on Dec. 28 that Iowa has a legal gambling expansion moratorium in place.

Meanwhile, six retail casino owners opposed the bill to legalize online casino gambling, according to Wes Ehrecke, President and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA). In 2023, he told Matthew Kredell of PlayUSA that those casino owners believed that legalizing iGaming would result in a loss of revenue at land-based gaming establishments.

In the Jan. 20 PlayUSA article, Kredell quoted Kaufmann’s 2022 statement that iGaming had a “zero” chance of passing until all 23 retail casinos were “on board.”

Iowa’s land-based gaming facilities are divided into 19 commercial casinos that generated $1.93 billion in gross gaming revenue in 2022. Those American Gaming Association (AGA) figures tallied a 2016 GGR of $142.8 million from the state’s four tribal casinos.

On Aug. 8, Chav Vasilev created a list for Bonus of those possible opponents:

  • Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack, and Hotel
  • Elite Casino Resorts: Operates Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort; Rhythm City Casino Resort; and Riverside Casino and Golf Resort 
  • Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
  • Casino Queen Marquette

Bonus and PlayUSA are Catena Media publications.

iGaming Legalization Efforts Already Thinning Out

With Kaufmann’s comments to Bonus on Jan. 24, Iowa joins Illinois, Indiana, and New Hampshire in ruling out pursuing iGaming bill approvals in 2024.

So, that leaves efforts to legalize online casino gambling to Maine, Maryland, and New York lawmakers.

New York’s SB8185 — sponsored by state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., D-Woodhaven — hasn’t moved since he introduced it on Jan. 11. Presumably, the next step for the online casino, poker, and iLottery bill is a hearing in the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. That’s where the bill sits, which is also a committee Addabbo leads.

Maryland may represent the best hope for iGaming legalization advocates. While the Free State will require a bill to pass both chambers and be approved by voters before regulators can ready a marketplace for launch, a debut of July 1, 2025, may still come before any other state progresses.

State Sen. Ron L. Watson, D-Prince George’s County, sponsors the yet-unpublished bill.

Watson’s chief of staff, Clate D. Jackson — AKA, “CJ” — told Bonus on Jan. 24:

It should be posted this week, if not tomorrow.

Rhode Island is expected to launch its online casino app on March 1.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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