Iowa Gaming Association Seeks iGaming for Casino Members

The Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) says it will embrace efforts to bring legal online casino gambling to the state.

The French Quarter in New Orleans is seen in late August 2021 during Hurricane Ida. The Louisiana city largely held off the Category 4 storm, but its casinos nonetheless suffered. (Image: Getty)
The French Quarter in New Orleans is seen in late August 2021 during Hurricane Ida. The Louisiana city largely held off the Category 4 storm, but its casinos nonetheless suffered. (Image: Getty)
The Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is seen across the Missouri River from downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Online casino games could be an item of discussion in Iowa during the 2022 legislation session. (Image: AP)

IGA President Wes Ehrecke recently told Axios that some members in the gaming industry trade group are supportive of legalizing iGaming in Iowa. Currently, only five states — New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Delaware, and West Virginia — have slot machines, table games, and poker rooms operating legally online.

The IGA is comprised of 19 commercial casino property members. The nonprofit supports the state’s gaming industry and promotes legislative efforts that are in its best interests.

iGaming Big Business

The Iowa General Assembly is set to commence its 2022 legislative session on January 10. Lawmaking is scheduled to run in the Des Moines capital through April.

Ehrecke says he isn’t sure whether iGaming will be brought up during the 2022 session. But the IGA boss believes interactive gaming has plenty of positive components that warrant consideration.

Legal internet gambling was a lifeline for brick-and-mortar casinos operating in iGaming states during the COVID-19 pandemic. In New Jersey, the largest iGaming market in the US, land-based gross gaming revenue tumbled 44 percent in 2020. But internet gaming win more than doubled.

New Jersey iGaming platforms generated online gaming revenue last year of more than $970 million. The state received approximately $145.7 million in associated iGaming taxes. Iowa might expect to receive about one-third of that tax haul upon full iGaming market maturation, as the state’s population is roughly one-third the size of New Jersey’s.

Brick-and-mortar casinos, however, make less income on iGaming than they do on retail play. And that’s why one Iowa casino isn’t in favor of bringing internet slots and table games to the state.

Prairie Meadows, the Polk County-owned horse racetrack and casino located in Altoona, has come out in opposition to iGaming.

We hope to stop it,” Polk County Chair Angela Connolly said of the concerns that online gambling would reduce foot traffic at Prairie Meadows.

Industry Revamp

Iowa’s gaming market is already slated to undergo a significant change in 2022 with the ending of greyhound racing and its pari-mutuel betting.

For iGaming concessions to be realized, legislative action is necessary. Iowa’s state lawmakers possess the power to expand gaming to include internet casinos. And that’s precisely what they did in 2019 to legalize sports betting.

The bill Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed into law in 2019 allows each of the state’s 19 casinos to seek sports betting permits for their facilities. It also authorized mobile sports betting opportunities.

Iowa taxes gross gaming revenue from retail and online sports betting at 6.75 percent. That’s an attractive rate, as it is considerably lower than many other states that have regulated sports gambling. Iowa oddsmakers took their most action ever in September, as the handle exceeded $210 million. The previous high monthly mark was $161.4 million, set in March.

All of the leading online sportsbook firms in the US have highly developed iGaming platforms that can be easily integrated into their present internet sportsbooks. DraftKings, BetMGM, and BetRivers are just three of the many online sportsbooks operating in Iowa that have the technological capability to quickly and seamlessly integrate iCasino into their services.

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