According to Iowa’s Quad City Times, state legislators in Des Moines are discussing changes to state law to regulate online poker within the state’s borders. This news has been a long time coming. Why Iowa? The reasons why Iowa is set to be one of the first states to consider regulating and controlling online poker within state lines are complex.
Iowa poker regulation has as much to do with the state legislative schedule as anything else. While states like New Jersey just recently finished their state legislative session, Iowa is still legislating. That means no wait until discussing new state laws. Another reason that the Iowa state government is considering the regulation of poker games online is the state’s budget concerns. The Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission estimates $13 million of annual tax revenue from state regulation of online poker games, $13 million that could stabilize state budgets.
The latest news, that state legislators are considering changes to state law as I write this, comes as the latest in a string of articles about changes to state law regarding legal online gambling of all varieties. Iowa finds itself in the national spotlight simply because they may be the first to take a shot at changing laws to allow for the regulation of poker.
For now, if you play as part of an online poker network within the state of Iowa, you aren’t committing any crime. What you are doing, the thing that has some lawmakers miffed, is sending your money outside the state. Iowans also crave the jobs could be created as part of a statewide regulatory commission for online gambling. Iowa is a poker-friendly state that allows private home games and doesn’t mention online gambling once in their penal code. In other words, there’s not much holding Iowa back from being the forerunner of legal and regulated online poker in America.
State Representative Jeff Kaufmann perfectly encapsulates the negative side of the Iowa government’s online poker opinions:
“I don’t buy the arguments that it’s happening anyway, so let’s legalize it. I’ve heard that same argument on the legalization of marijuana. I’ve heard that same argument on a whole host of vices. If the premise for legalizing online gambling is that it’s happening anyway, there is a huge slippery slope on what we’re going to legalize in this state, and I know we would go places where the vast bulk of Iowans do not want to go.”
I’m not totally sure that “vast bulk” is proper English, but his point is clear. Unfortunately for Kaufmann and his fellow anti-gaming Iowans, using the legalization of marijuana in a discussion of online gambling is a red herring of the worst variety. What do the two have to do with each other?
The only thing currently standing in the way of regulated online poker in Iowa is the state’s traditional conservative positions on any issue involving vice. Fortunately for online poker players in Des Moines, state budget deficits make morals easy to overlook.
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