Rep. Kaufmann, Iowa Gaming Association Doubt 2025 Will See Online Casino Legalization

The 2024 Iowa online casino bill failed to be voted on early in the session, and its sponsor, state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann told Bonus that 2025 isn’t looking good, either. Plus, Wes Ehrecke — president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) — told Bonus the same.

Kaufmann, R-Wilton, told Bonus in a May 7 interview:

I think it’s accurate that 2025 is an unlikely year.

Nonetheless, he believes that in 2025 — “Year 3” of his attempts to legalize Iowa online casinos — his efforts to educate fellow lawmakers, union representatives, and casino operators will start to find traction.

Kaufmann told Bonus:

I think we’re getting closer. I think more people are becoming receptive.

Legal gambling expansion is always a difficult issue to convince people about, he said.

Hence, HSB227 didn’t pass before the legislature adjourned on April 20. His iGaming bill saw activity in early 2023 but no movement in its reintroduction year of 2024.

On May 6, Ehrecke also told Bonus that 2025 probably wouldn’t be iGaming’s year.

Ehrecke said the IGA wasn’t involved in Kaufmann’s educational efforts. So, he doesn’t know how successful they were.

Why Ehrecke Has 2025 Doubts

On May 6, Ehrecke answered the question from Bonus: “Do you believe iGaming legislation will be reintroduced in 2025?”

It is possible to be introduced by someone; but realistically not expected to advance.

The Iowa Gaming Association remains neutral, as there are member casinos who favor legalization and some are opposed. So, it’s very difficult to adopt an issue without complete industry unity.

Plus, it is an election year with several legislators not running that will create newly elected faces and require increased education about gaming and especially this issue.

Kaufmann is running unopposed in his June 4 primary. He told Bonus he’s also unopposed in the general election in November.

Iowa May Add a 20th Retail Casino

Although Iowa lawmakers didn’t vote on iGaming before adjourning on April 20, the House did approve a five-year-long extension of the moratorium on new retail casinos.

However, the Senate took no action on Kaufmann’s effort. As a result, the moratorium is scheduled to end on July 1.

Cedar Rapids officials will likely move forward with plans for a new casino, bringing Iowa’s total of commercial casinos to 20. There are also four tribal gaming facilities.

Kaufmann said of the four tribal casino operators’ stances on legal gambling expansion regarding iGaming or other issues:

Not one of them reached out to me.

However, Kaufmann’s still concerned about the proposed Cedar Rapids casino’s impact on Iowa’s 23 land-based casinos:

It’s a cannibalization concern for our other casinos that already invested heavily in the infrastructure.

The IGA counts the 19 commercial casinos and its representatives among its members.

Ehrecke told Bonus on May 6:

The commercial casinos were unified to extend the moratorium, and Kaufmann advanced that extension to pass in the House. However, however it did not get considered in the Senate.

So, Kaufmann may soon have a new retail casino operator to educate about iGaming.

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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