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Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to study Internet gambling

A bill that started out as an online poker legalisation proposal, but was watered down to a study of online poker in the legislative process, has passed both Senate and House - the latter on a 72 - 21 vote - in Iowa.

The local newspaper Globe Gazette reported on the passage of the bill through the House Tuesday and informed that it will now go to the governor's desk.

Representative Peter Cownie, the chairman of the state government committee who floor-managed the bill said that there had been little debate or delay on the floor.

“I’m pleased with what we were able to pass,” he said. “I was really pleased that we were able to get a lot of those groups in agreement - the horse breeders, the tracks, all the different interests.”

Summarising the bill, the Globe Gazette reports that it:

• Requires that the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission study Internet gambling and produce a report for lawmakers by December 1, 2011.

• Changes the law that requires local voters to approve a referendum for the continuing existence of the casinos every eight years. Under the legislation, there is a single eight-year review. After that review, a referendum would go on the ballot only if 10% of the residents of the county who voted in the previous presidential or gubernatorial election sign a petition calling for it.

• Memorializes a deal between the state’s various horse breeders and race tracks over purses and allows the state to adopt a system for advanced wagering, which is placing bets on upcoming horse races either over the phone or via the computer.

Iowa governor Terry Branstad has not indicated his intentions on the bill, but has thus far maintained an open mind on the issue.

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