Iowa's latest attempt to legalise intrastate online poker has taken a small but significant initial step in its state legislature, passing a Senate sub-committee Tuesday. The proposal authorises the creation of an intrastate Internet poker network, providing a regulatory structure for its implementation, operation and taxation.
Senate Study Bill 1165 places control of an online poker hub operator in the hands the state Racing and Gaming Commission, which would contract with existing state-licensed casinos to operate affiliated online sites within a "closed loop" in Iowa for registered players at least 21 years of age.
"It's a modest first step," said Sen. Jeff Danielson, chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, who expects his committee to pass the measure to the full Senate ahead of the deadline for bills to clear one legislative panel to stay eligible this session.
Danielson told the Sioux City Journal that the bill is designed to address a "generational disconnect" that forces younger, computer-savvy Iowans caught up in the popularity of poker to seek out illegally operated online Web sites run by off-shore operations that may cheat them.
"I see this as a consumer protection law," he said. "I think technology has gotten ahead of our policy on gaming laws. We think it is time to modernize Iowa's laws relative to this aspect of gaming. We want it to be a narrowly focused bill."
Ned Chiodo, a registered lobbyist, told the newspaper that some 150,000 Iowans play Internet poker through offshore operators. He estimated that between $30 and $35 million in tax revenues for the state could be generated through legalisation.
"This activity is not going to go away," he said. "It's growing by leaps and bounds."
Jack Ketterer, administrator of the state Racing and Gaming Commission, said there currently is "no blueprint" for regulating internet gambling but he expected the online activity envisioned in the bill could be accomplished.
Source: InfoPowa News