Online casinos will, at some point, become a standard fixture in most, if not all, states. It won’t happen overnight and a lot of resistance is likely. Some states may be more amenable to the idea, including Iowa. The leader of a group that represents 19 Iowa-licensed casinos believes that lawmakers could debate legalizing online gambling at some point, but admits that it probably won’t happen during the next legislative session.
Online Casinos Could Come to Iowa
iGaming has already been approved in six states, including Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan. Wes Ehrecke, the president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA), says that Iowa could be added to the list, but emphasizes that the topic has only just been broached hasn’t gained any serious traction.
Ehrecke made similar comments a couple of months ago. At that time, however, he seemed to believe that discussion at the legislative level was possible in 2022.
Speaking on Iowa PBS this past weekend, Ehrecke stated that the IGA doesn’t necessarily see any legislation being introduced, but that it’s possible. However, if it does, the IGA will remain neutral. Ehrecke said he didn’t think that making online gambling legal would result in the closing down of brick-and-mortar casinos.
“We have some of our members that support looking at it; there are others that are opposed,” he explained. “They have questions and thoughts and so this is going to need to evolve over the next year or two before any serious legislation or consideration would happen.”
Land-based Casinos Don’t Need to Worry
Iowans have been able to place online sports bets since August 2019, making the state one of the early adopters of online sports gambling. Adding online casinos could be the next logical step, but land-based casinos won’t suffer. Ehrecke states, “It’s the dining, the hotels, the comedy clubs — the variety of things that are within a casino, plus the concerts and conventions and the like. We’ve really created premier destinations in 19 places.”
Ehrecke believes that it will be crucial to analyze the records of the six states which have legalized online casinos. He states that there will be questions about how online gambling revenue compares to in-person betting and whether traffic drops in casinos.
The executive added, “Is it going to be something that’s worthwhile like when we’re having our blizzards in the wintertime and things like that, so there’s just a variety of things — and how to structure it properly. You know, where’s the appetite for Iowans and legislators to want to have this as an option?”
Those questions will have to be answered before any legislation movement is made.