Iowa might be next to pass iGaming legislation

2 March 2011
LONDON, England -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- New Jersey is but a step away from becoming the first state in America to regulate Intra-State Internet gambling. A Bill authorising Atlantic City casinos to offer online games to persons physically present in the state was approved by the Legislature in January 2011. It awaits the signature of Governor Chris Christie, who, during his time in office, has pushed hard to reinvigorate the state's flagging gaming economy. With New Jersey on the cusp of introducing safe and secure online games — games which could profitably generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues each year — other states have begun to take notice.

In Iowa, state Senator Jeff Danielson, Democrat of Waterloo, will this week introduce a large gambling Bill that includes provisions authorizing the state's licensed casinos to offer Internet poker to persons physically present there. The Bill must clear its first hurdle, a vote in legislative committee, by March 4. In order to become law, the Bill must then be approved by both chambers of the Iowa Legislature and, finally, signed by Governor Terry Branstad. Relative to New Jersey, the Internet gambling debate in Iowa is in its early stages, but gambling industry lobbyists in Des Moines say that the Legislature will consider Internet poker carefully in light of the fiscal returns it could generate for the state.

Early estimates prepared by groups lobbying for the Iowa gambling Bill suggest that Internet poker, if legalized, could generate $35 million in revenues for the state each year. In New Jersey, though, the figures are even bigger. According to a study commissioned by the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), an Internet gambling industry trade group, Internet gambling could generate $250 million in revenues for the state in its first year, and as much as $7.1 Billion over the long run. Taken together, the estimates from Iowa and New Jersey show that introducing even limited forms of Internet gaming could deliver nearly $300 million to two states that are cutting funding for public programs and in desperate need of new revenues.

"This week marks a turning point for Internet gambling in the United States," says Chris Krafcik, an independent analyst who tracks American Internet gambling policy for publishers and consultancies around the world. "First, Governor Christie will decide by March 3 whether to approve, veto, conditionally veto, or abstain from voting on the Internet gambling Bill pending there. Second, a committee in the Iowa Legislature will decide by March 4 whether Internet poker will feature as a public policy issue this year. If Christie signs the Bill and the Iowa Legislature runs with Internet poker, Internet gambling will have taken big steps toward being recognized as the safe, secure and revenue-generative business that it is."