After failing to sway the Republican-controlled Iowa House of Representatives last year, Hawkeye State lawmakers have reintroduced an online poker bill.
Sen. Jeff Danielson (D-Black Hawk), along with Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) and Sen. Wally Horn (D-Cedar Rapids), have asked their fellow lawmakers to consider Senate Study Bill 1068. The proposal, which is similar to a 2011 Senate Study Bill, would permit the state's current gambling license holders to operate online poker sites.
Study bills are presented by Iowa legislators as a way to determine how their colleagues in the House and Senate feel about the proposal. After receiving sponsorship, the bills usually are handed off to a committee. Approval by the committee would allow the measure to progress to one of the chambers of the General Assembly.
Last March, an online poker bill breezed through the Iowa Senate by a 29-20 margin. At the time, it looked as though Iowa would compete with Nevada to be the first state to have online poker sites up and running. However, the Iowa House was not as eager to see Iowans legally gambling from their laptops and desktops, and never even brought the proposal up for a vote.
The issue will now be reconsidered this year. Since the Iowa House let the matter die 10 months ago, Delaware has joined Nevada with online gambling legislation, New Jersey is only a Gov. Chris Christie signature away from also permitting Internet gambling, and California legislators will debate a poker-only online bill in a couple months. Also, lawmakers on the federal level have failed to act on the matter and the Reid-Kyl bill seems a longshot at this stage.
Senate Study Bill 1068 calls for only intrastate online poker. Nevada's current law also permits only residents and tourists of the Silver State to play poker online, which should begin in a matter of months. However, Nevada is seeking to amend its current legislation to allow for interstate compacts. The ideal situation for U.S. players would be for all states that eventually approve online poker legislation to enter into agreements with each other that would greatly expand player pools.