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Iowa Capitol Building

The Iowa Capitol in Des Moines is shown in June 2018.

DES MOINES -- Whether sports betting will become legal in Iowa now rests with Gov. Kim Reynolds.

A proposal to legalize betting on professional and college athletics, and on daily fantasy sports, gained the approval of state lawmakers in the Iowa House on Monday.

Having previously passed the Iowa Senate, the proposal now heads to the governor’s desk for her consideration.

The governor’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening. Reynolds is scheduled to host a press conference with statehouse reporters Tuesday morning.

The proposal approved by state lawmakers would legalize betting on professional and college athletics, and on daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. Bets could be placed in Iowa’s state-run casinos or online, and the industry would be regulated by the state agency that polices casinos and race tracks. Casinos would pay annual fees and any revenue would be taxed.

The proposal does not allow in-game bets -- known commonly as proposition, or prop bets -- on college athletics.

Supporters of the legislation said betting on sports already takes place and the state should legalize the activity so it can be regulated and taxed.

Bobby Kaufmann

Kaufmann

“Right now there is a rampant black market going on where tens of millions of Americans are betting on sports and fantasy (sports), and they do not currently have the legal right to do so. I believe this is a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton who shepherded the proposal through the legislative process in the House.

“I believe sticking our head in the sand and doing nothing is not an option.”

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Opponents cited concerns with an expansion of gambling and the problems that could be caused to individuals and families by gambling addiction, and with the potential for the corruption of Iowa’s college athletics.

Andy McKean

McKean

Rep. Andy McKean, a Republican from Anamosa, noted he was in the Iowa Legislature when the state first legalized gambling in 1983. He noted the multiple expansions since that time.

“This bill is just a continuation of this trend, and to say it is not an expansion of gambling and bringing it out of the shadows is just window dressing,” McKean said.

The House vote did not fall along party lines; both were divided. There were 38 Republicans who voted yes and 16 who voted no; 29 Democrats voted yes and 15 no.

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