Iowa seems unlikely to legalize online casino gambling in 2024, according to State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann in a statement to Sweepscasinosusa on January 24. Despite this, House Study Bill 227 (HSB227), which Kaufmann introduced on March 8, 2023, remains in play.
Last year, HSB227 faced a House Ways and Means Committee subcommittee hearing on March 21, where most testimonies were against legalizing online casino gambling. The bill was subsequently returned to the parent committee without recommendation. Kaufmann has expressed his support for the bill but acknowledges the lack of necessary votes and industry efforts to educate legislators.
Challenges in Legalizing Online Casino Gambling in Iowa
Kaufmann’s initial intent with HSB227 was to start discussions on iGaming legalization in Iowa. However, any legalization couldn’t take effect before July 1, 2024, due to a moratorium on legal gambling expansion in Iowa. Opposition from six retail casino owners, fearing revenue loss for land-based gaming establishments, has been a significant hindrance. These casinos, including Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack, and Hotel, and others operated by Elite Casino Resorts and Casino Queen Marquette, are among the 23 retail casinos in Iowa. In 2022, these casinos generated $1.93 billion in gross gaming revenue, according to the American Gaming Association.
Prospects for iGaming Legalization in 2024
With Kaufmann’s recent comments, Iowa joins other states like Illinois, Indiana, and New Hampshire in backing away from iGaming legislation in 2024. This shift leaves the efforts to legalize online casino gambling mainly to states like Maine, Maryland, and New York.
In New York, SB8185, introduced by State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., awaits progression in the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. Maryland appears to be the most promising state for iGaming legalization, with a potential market launch by July 1, 2025. A bill sponsored by State Sen. Ron L. Watson is expected to be published soon, with Clate D. Jackson, Watson’s chief of staff, indicating imminent posting.
The journey towards legalizing online casino gambling in Iowa faces significant challenges in 2024, with notable opposition and legislative hurdles. As Iowa steps back, the focus shifts to other states like Maryland and New York, where efforts continue to bring iGaming to fruition. The landscape of online gambling legalization in the U.S. remains dynamic, with each state navigating its unique political and economic considerations.