On Monday, February 20th, the Iowa Senate Subcommittee passed a bill legalizing online poker in the state, the Sioux City Journal reports. The bill has been accepted despite the opposition from some organizations defending family rights. However, the subcommittee has decided to support the bill in order to bring the prohibited activity out into the daylight and ensure that online poker is licensed and regulated rather than leave it in the outskirts of the law.
Senator Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo commented on the decision by saying that banning online poker has failed in other states and that Iowa should take advantage of the business with an annual income of approximately $30 million to $100 million at the same time preventing underage and unfair internet gaming activities. “Today the policy is do nothing by default,” Danielson said having in mind the fact that online poker is ignored by the legal authorities and there are no safeguards for the players.
“I agree something has to be done at this point,” said Senator Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City. “I see this as an opportunity for Iowa to get out in front of this.”
However, not everyone appears to be happy with the passing of the online poker bill. Family Leader official Danny Carroll argued that the legalization of online poker will have a negative effect on the state and its residents as it will create a gambling-friendly environment and put a lot of people at risk of becoming addicted to poker.
“This is just the beginning,” Carroll said to bring out his determination to continue fighting the new bill. He already addressed the three-member Senate panel asking them to consider the effects of online poker legislation for Iowa families. “The people of Iowa do not want it,” he said, backing his statement with local and national poll results showing resistance towards internet poker legalization.
Carroll suggests that instead of legalizing and controlling online poker the state should start an educational campaign against the activity declaring “online poker as a dangerous game that should not be played and to offer Iowa as a place where families could come with an assurance it would not be offered here.”
However, with the Senate subcommittee's decision to go the opposite direction, the new bill should help create an online poker network with its own regulatory structure of implementing, operating, and taxing the business. According to Danielson, the legislation will allow both local and out-of-state residents over the age of 21 to play online poker within the state borders. Gaming companies will be able to cooperate with state-licensed casinos “under the control of the state Racing and Gaming Commission to operate affiliated online sites for registered players.”
A representative of the Iowa Gaming Association, a group of 18 state-regulated casinos, Wes Ehrecke confirmed the group's support for the online poker bill in hopes that the legislation will not patronize just one online poker provider and will be equally fair to all operators.