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The legalization of sports gambling could spell cash for Iowa


This news story was published on September 19, 2019.
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If you’ve tried to place a sports bet in Iowa in recent decades it’s likely that you’ll have found yourself frustrated at the first hurdle. Until recently, a federal law banning all sports betting in Iowa and many other states was in force. Now that it’s gone, everywhere from Oregon to New Jersey has got in on the act. You only have to look at the now high-profile nature of NJ online sports betting to see just how appealing it has been there. And the state of Iowa has since decided to legalize sports betting now that it has the right to do so, because In August of this year it suddenly became legal. This article will delve further into the impact of the changes and look at how it could impact on the state’s finances in years to come.

The changes to PASPA: a quick guide

Sports betting in the sense in which most people understand it (pools and wagering on the outcome of a specific single game) was illegal in the United States for many years. While some states were able to run highly specific sports wagering contests, there was no large-scale betting sports opportunities available anywhere but in Nevada. But in 2018, the US Supreme Court decreed that this ban was to exist no longer. It said the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, should be put to bed – and that individual states should instead make the decisions about what the laws should be.

What’s the status in Iowa?

Sports betting is newly legal in Iowa. It only came into force last month after the relevant legislation went through the state legislature. Gamblers can now head online to place their bets, or they can go down to one of the many casinos which have been awarded licenses to offer sports betting. It’s possible to bet on both the outcome of college-level sports matches and also on professional games – so there’s plenty of choice available. If you do choose to bet online, all you need to do is open an account with a provider who offers services permitted to Iowans. And remember, because of the nature of the new laws, the apps and websites in question will locate you geographically to check that you’re actually in Iowa at the time the bet is placed.

A pot of gold awaits

Nobody has a crystal ball, of course – and there’s no point attempting to second-guess the exact consequences of the recent change in the law here in Iowa, however, there are some predictions which can be made with a reasonable degree of certainty based on the experiences of other states. First off, sports teams in the state could find themselves entering into partnerships with gambling companies. That sort of behavior was one of the things that PASPA existed to prohibit – but now that it is out of the way, the sports industry is changing its ethical code to suit the brave new world of sports betting. 

There are plenty of popular sports organizations represented in the state – and although none of them play in the major leagues, they still have big followings. Sports teams are emotionally important to people, but they’re also large corporations in many cases – and that means they don’t just benefit their stakeholders and topflight players when they get richer. The wealth that they generate trickles across to other parts of the state’s economy. A richer Iowa Cubs baseball team or Iowa Wolves basketball team, for example, could mean higher tax payments, more jobs for local people, and so on.

And there’s also the revenue from casinos to consider, as they have expanded in line with the change in market conditions. According to one report, casinos in Iowa apparently made $2.2 million in the first 17 days of sports betting being introduced in the state. Casinos are taxed in Iowa, and figures suggest that in that period alone $145,914 was paid to the government. 

Since the changes in the law have come into force, the state of Iowa has built itself a reputation as somewhere in which sports betting organizations can do business. Casinos are already getting in on the action, while the shifting market conditions mean that sports teams and leagues which operate in the state can begin to look forward to a world of lucrative partnerships. Thanks to these added income streams, it looks like everyone in the state of Iowa may be about to benefit.

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