Groups make their pitch to lawmakers on sports betting legislation

    Illinois lawmaker works on sports gambling bill. (MGN Online)

    Lawmakers at the statehouse are weighing several proposals to bring sports betting to Iowa, with multiple stakeholders vying for control over any operations.

    A House panel discussed four competing proposals Thursday from Iowa's casinos, horse racing industry, lottery and major league sports—all groups hoping to be key players if lawmakers decide Iowans can place bets on professional and college games. A Senate panel discussed companion bills in that chamber Wednesday.

    “Across the country there truly appears to be as many approaches to sports betting as there are U.S. states and territories," said Mary Neubauer of the Iowa Lottery.

    One proposal would all Iowa's 19 casinos—regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission—to have in-person sports betting operations. The bill would also allow Iowans to place bets online.

    “We feel we have the best expertise and are best suited to bring this forward," said Wes Erechke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association, who has pushed for sports betting legislation in the past.

    In its proposal, the Iowa Lottery hopes it can sell limited sports betting products as local retailers where Iowans already buy lottery tickets and games. The organization argues its plan would give more Iowans access because it wouldn't be exclusive to casinos. It also contends the infrastructure for sports betting is already in place.

    “if sports lottery was authorized as product in Iowa, we anticipate it would be offered through the same equipment used today through retail locations," said Neubauer.

    The state's horse racing industry also made the case for authority over any sports betting operations. Major league sports pitched a separate proposal which included fees to those organizations before anyone can bet on major league games and use of their official data to make plays.

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