The Iowa Legislature has passed a bill that would shape the future of sports betting in the state for years to come.
There are a few steps left before sports betting enthusiasts who are at least 21 years old can wager on their favorite teams at any of Iowa’s 19 casinos, or online if they verify their age in person at a casino.
What do you need to know right now? Here’s a quick overview:
How soon can Iowans start participating in sanctioned sports betting?
Iowa lawmakers finalized legislation to legalize sports betting Monday, but it could be months before Iowans can show up at casinos and place their bets.
But first, Gov. Kim Reynolds would have to sign the bill into law. Reynolds has not publicly stated her views on sports betting, but Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said he was “cautiously optimistic” she will approve it.
If she does approve the bill, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which would oversee sports betting, would develop rules for casinos to implement. Rules could be adopted as soon as July or August, said Brian Ohorilko, the commission administrator.
This means Iowans could get the chance to bet on baseball games and other summer sports, while giving casinos some time to adjust before college sports and NFL games begin.
The commission could use emergency rule-making procedures, which the Administrative Rules Review Committee couldl ater alter.
Ten states already have laws allowing sports gambling on the books, according to an ESPN.com national tracker.
The Chicago Tribune reports that research firms expect as many as 32 states to offer sports betting within five years.
THE NATIONAL ANGLE: What’s the big picture on sports betting timelines?
Can I already legally bet on certain contests?
Yes, but to a specific and limited degree. Iowa has long held exceptions for horse racing and other pari-mutuel wagering, and what it calls “social gambling” — think amusement park and carnival games, darts, bingo, raffles and even formally organized March Madness pools.
But places wishing to conduct these events need a special social gambling license from the state. Social gambling participants cannot wager more than $5, and the maximum winnings to all participants in the pool cannot exceed $500. Liquor establishments cannot officially conduct the pools.
Poker tournaments are big no-nos. And even wagers between individuals “who are together for purposes other than gambling” are limited to $50 over a 24-hour period.
Under those regulations, those informal, big-money office pools on the NCAA Tournament or the Super Bowl with friends (and even family!) would almost certainly remain illegal. That’s a small slice of the $150 billion gambled annually on sports in the United States, of which 97% is bet illegally, according to the American Gaming Association.
What about daily fantasy sports games, like FanDuel and DraftKings?
These games would be legal under the current legislation. Online and mobile fantasy sports games will have the same 6.75% tax that regular casinos will take on as well.
Previously, Iowa was one of five states (along with Arizona, Louisiana, Montana and Washington) that had specific legislation banning games that involve any manner of chance. Nevada, Idaho, Hawaii and Alabama also either have strict limitations in place to regulate games such as FanDuel and DraftKings, or the services have left the states entirely on their own.
Aren’t pro sports leagues wanting in on the action?
The National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball have pushed states to adopt the idea of a 1% sports integrity fee that would be taken out of all sports bets before government taxes and given to the leagues. They’ve pitched the idea as a way to police point-shaving and other gambling-related corruption and were formally registered in opposition to earlier bills this session that did not include this language.
Iowa legislators did not include an integrity fee as part of their proposal.
What was the old law, anyway?
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and went into effect in January 1993. Nevada — the only state that had widespread state-sponsored sports bettors at the time the bill became law — and three other states with more limited betting (Oregon, Delaware and Montana) were grandfathered in.
The act didn’t outlaw sports betting — that was already illegal. Rather, it banned states, outside those that were given exemptions, from regulating (and taxing) sports betting.
Could new federal laws make things more complicated?
Sports and gambling law attorney Daniel Wallach told USA TODAY Sports that new federal legislation could come well after many states have already started taking bets.
“At some point, if the legislation starts to diverge from state to state and, more importantly, the leagues don’t get what they want at the state level, I think you will see Congress jump into the fray and pass some kind of legislation to create more uniformity across the country,” Wallach said.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., proposed the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement (GAME) Act more than a year ago, but it hasn’t even been considered by a committee. Part of the GAME Act would mandate consumer protections, including a ban on underage betting, and establish safeguards against compulsive gambling.
USA TODAY Sports contributed to this report.