In light of Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision, we support plans already under discussion for the Iowa Legislature to revisit next year the legalization of betting on college and professional sports under regulation by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
The court, in a 6-3 ruling, struck down the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or Bradley Act, through which most states, including Iowa, were prohibited from the establishment of sports wagering.
"The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. "Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own."
Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN the decision "... clears the way for all states to make their own decisions about legalizing sports betting ..."
In the just-completed legislative session, proponents of legalized sports betting in Iowa pushed for a new state law in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Iowa is one of 18 states in which legislation was introduced this year to legalize sports betting if the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 law.
With uncertainty removed, it's time for renewed focus in our state. Iowa Rep. Jake Highfill, R-Johnston, told The Des Moines Register on Monday he will, in fact, introduce a proposal when the Legislature convenes in January to allow betting on college and professional sports.
We welcome a robust discussion with an eye toward passage of legalized sports betting through which Iowans and the state of Iowa can get a piece of this popular activity.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported a record $4.8 billion of sports wagering in 2017, compared to $2.1 billion in 2010. Sports betting produced a record $248.8 million in revenue for Nevada last year. A survey of Iowans conducted by Innovation Group (a consultant firm for the gaming industry) showed residents might spend between $80 million and $90 million each year on sports betting if it became legal in our state.
For nearly 40 years, casinos have been part of this state's landscape. Today, nearly two dozen casinos produce an economic impact of some $1 billion each year.
The addition of sports betting represents a natural next step in the evolution of gambling in Iowa.