The online poker bill in the Iowa House may be delayed due to some moral objections.
Democrat Sen. Jeff Danielson from Cedar Falls was among the leaders of the anti online gambling camp priming for a fight against the Senate Study Bill 1068. Iowa follows states like New Jersey and Nevada who seek to decriminalize online poker. According to Danielson, the bill was more of a consumer protection bill than a gambling bill which proposes to reduce the nature of the offense from a felony to a civil infraction that attracts only a $50 fine. Earlier at a subcommittee meeting, the senator emphatically stated that state gaming revenue was already estimated at around $30 million a year, the highest surplus in the state’s history, and therefore did not require the passing of Senate Study Bill 1068.
Danielson is also the chairman of the State Government Committee and may have to face some opposition to his views in the Iowa House. However, the senator believes it is a narrowly crafted bill. Danielson stated that research indicates that thousands of Iowans use foreign-based sites to gamble online. In addition, Iowa is one of the leading states to fund programs to help compulsive gamblers. The bill would result in 21 casinos being able to operate online poker in Iowa and no other form of gambling.
Republican Sen. Guy Vander Linden from Oskaloosa, who is also the House State Government Committee Chairman, was also apprehensive about the bill but promised to consider it although not in its entirety. Republican Sen. Randy Feenstra from Hull was also not in support of the growth of online gambling. He feared that it could only lead to more societal problems that may result in the government being to blame if the bill is passed.
On the other hand, Iowa Gaming Association’s Wes Ehrecke didn’t foresee the bill as an expansion of gambling but a means to protect thousands of Iowan online gamblers who are currently not exposed to any regulations. Lobbyist for the Iowa Catholic Conference, Tom Chapman, reiterated that his organization wasn’t opposed to gambling but was deeply concerned about the social costs of such a bill. He also mentioned that Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll indicated that only a quarter of Iowan adults were in favor of legalizing online gambling.