The Iowa State Senate passed Senate File 2275 today which would legalize online poker in the state by a vote of 29-20. Democrats voted 21-5 in favor of the bill, while only 8 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, with 15 Republicans opposed to it. The bill would only allow for online poker, no other real money games would be licensed. The bill specifically identified Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Stud, and Draw games. The Iowa House has yet to act on the bill. The Iowa House is controlled by Republicans, many of which are opposed to expanding in the state.
If passed into law, the state expects to generate between $2.9 million and $13.2 million in annual tax revenue. Annual gross receipts for the licensees are expected to be between $30 and $60 million.
The bill would require players to be 21 years of age or older, which is the age requirement for Iowa’s brick and mortar casinos. Existing casino licensees would be allowed to apply for an online poker license. Applicants would be allowed to file jointly and operate joint ventures. Licensees would be required to donate at least 3% of their gross receipts to charities. The state would tax gross receipts between 22% and 24%, depending on the number of licensees and their volume. Gross receipts are defined as rake + tournament fees – bonuses and other promotions.
Licensees would be required to provide documentation on all online poker gross receipts separate from their brick and mortar operations. Licensees would also be required to provide the state with the identity and account balances of all online poker players upon request, although that information could not be provided to the public. Players that were caught cheating online would be charged with a “D” felony, and if convicted, would be banned from all brick and mortar gambling establishments within the state. Any player banned from a brick and mortar gambling establishment would also be banned from Iowa online poker rooms.
Iowa has a long history of gambling. In April 1991, Iowa became the first state in the U.S. with legalized riverboat casinos. Iowa casinos have no game or bet restrictions.