Iowa Online Casino Education Appears to Be Working — Slowly

Iowa online casino education may be showing “fluid” results, an Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) leader told Bonus on Jan. 29. That’s logical, considering Iowa Rep. Bobby Kaufmann told Bonus that even though HSB227 is an active online casino bill, he won’t make an effort to move it forward during 2024. Because this is a time “to educate people,” he said.

Kaufmann, R-Wilton, told Bonus on Jan. 24 that “I do not think the votes are there this year” for HSB227 to pass in the Iowa Legislature. On March 22, 2023, the gaming bill was returned to the committee, where it still resides.

Meanwhile, Kaufmann wants all retail casinos to be in favor of iGaming. He thinks that must happen for the iGaming bill to stand a chance of approval.

IGA President and CEO Wes Ehrecke clarified for PlayUSA that that means Iowa’s commercial casinos. (Bonus and PlayUSA are Catena Media brands.)

The American Gaming Association (AGA) gaming trade organization shows that Iowa houses 23 land-based casinos. Nineteen of them are commercial casinos, and four are tribal casinos.

IGA President and CEO Wes Ehrecke told Bonus on Jan. 28:

Three gaming companies are opposed and another is neutral — positions remain fluid knowing that no iGaming bill will be advancing this session and considerable education will continue with the elected officials by those companies who favor the issue. The IGA is not involved in those efforts.

Which Casinos Flipped?

Bonus sent Ehrecke a list of casinos that may oppose legal iGaming and asked which ones had changed and possibly responded to Iowa online casino education efforts:

  • 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

Ehrecke responded to Bonus on Jan. 29:

Casino Queen is in favor and the Q Casino is opposed. As stated earlier, gaming company positions continue to be fluid and will likely change if iGaming ever gets traction which probably won’t be for a couple years — especially dependent on what the proposal verbiage looks like at that time.

About Casino Queen Marquette

On Aug. 8, 2023, Chav Vasilev wrote a comprehensive list for Bonus about the retail casinos in favor of and opposed to iGaming.

Now that Ehrecke tells Bonus that Casino Queen Marquette approves of legal Iowa online casino gambling, here’s the background from Vasilev.

Vasilev had categorized the commercial casino as one of the facilities “that may oppose online casino legalization.”

He wrote:

Queen Marquette is one of the casinos that has yet to declare its intentions. It’s also one of a few state casinos not represented by lobbyists.

Queen Marquette could be a holdout because of its new Queen Sportsbook. The casino’s previous partner, Fubo Sportsbook, recently ceased operations. As a result, Queen Marquette partnered with Bet365, which launched in June as an online partner.

Meanwhile, the casino’s parent company launched an in-house brand, Queen Sportsbook. In addition to retail operations, Queen Sportsbook is going through an approval process to launch a mobile sportsbook in Maryland, meaning the company is looking to expand.

Q Casino May Have Flipped

Ehrecke told Bonus that “Q Casino is opposed.”

Vasilev had listed the business as “may support online casino legalization.”

Vasilev wrote:

The Q Casino is owned by the city of Dubuque and operated by the Dubuque Racing Association, a non-profit company. While Ehrecke does not mention 2021, that was the last time Q Casino lobbyists declared support for iGaming expansion. Unless there’s a change of heart, Q Casino should support online casinos.

The Dubuque Racing Association (DRA) didn’t immediately return a request for comment from Bonus.

On Jan. 1, Q Casino and DRA President and CEO Alex Dixon posted on social media about the 2024 plans for a “renovated casino,” a new family entertainment zone, and “a beautiful new boutique hotel.”

    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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