Iowa Introduces New Bill To Legalize Daily Fantasy Sports

Lawmakers in Iowa are making yet another attempt to legalize daily fantasy sports wagering in the state after a bill introduced last year failed. This will enable popular daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators like DraftKings and FanDuel to operate legally in the state.

This year’s bill is being proposed by Republican Senator Guy Vander Linden and is expected to be identical to what was introduced last year. Under the terms of the bill, the State Racing and Gaming Commission will be authorized to regulate the industry including licensing of companies, handling violations, levying fines and issuing suspensions.

DFS operators would need to pay a tax of 7.5 percent on their revenues and this will be directed to the state’s infrastructure fund. The bill intends to restrict the wagering to those above the age of 21 and will bar high school and college athletics from participating. The legislation has the support of both DraftKings and FanDuel but several groups are opposing the expansion of gaming in the state, including the Mystique Casino located in Dubuque. Other casinos in the state have adopted a neutral position.

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Linden said that the legislative process for the bill became easier once it was agreed to label fantasy sports as gambling rather than a game of skill, with support from the industry.

In a statement Vander Linden said

We’ve been playing with this for a number of years. We pretty much now all agree that we’re going to treat it (as) gambling, first of all. We’re going to treat it like all other gambling. We’re going to regulate it through the Racing and Gaming (Commission). We’re going to tax it. People get out of line, we will do away with it. We have gambling in Iowa. It’s just another form.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Danielson has supported the proposal stating that many Iowan citizens were playing without knowing that it was illegal. However he said that he differed on whether the game should be considered gambling or be seen as a game of skill. He said that if it is taken to be gambling and heavy regulations are imposed, it might deter companies from offering such games.

Revenue gains from the new tax are not expected to be very substantial. According to the state’s fiscal agency, tax revenue from the fantasy sports industry would generate a maximum of $578,000 for the infrastructure fund. Iowa is one of the five states in United States that has banned operation of DFS sites.


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