Though there is no current plan to allow online poker in Iowa, state officials are talking about the idea.
Lottery Director Terry Rich recently told state lawmakers that state code allows the lottery to offer online games. However, he has no plans to “put the full accelerator on” to pursue online gaming this year, according to a report in the Sioux City Journal.
A study for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission estimated that Iowa could bring in $3 million to $13 million a year from online poker. It’s also been estimated as many as 150,000 Iowans play online poker even though it’s not legal in the state. Lottery officials said many calls to the state’s problem gaming hotline come from online poker players, the paper reported.
Rich said, the Lottery is in “research and development,” and he is monitoring what other states and the federal government are doing. Three states—Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware—currently allow online gambling within their borders.
State Sen. Brian Schoenjahn, D-Arlington, however, said the state could provide a higher level of protection for players.
“My fear is that it’s like the Target credit card scam, except there are no protections,” he said according to the Journal. “If people are going to do it anyway, maybe Iowa ought to take a piece of the pie and regulate it.”
Still, no action is imminent. In 2012, a bill to allow intrastate online poker as well as give Iowa an opportunity to join interstate compacts to regulate online gaming passed the state Senate 29-20, but died in the state House of Representatives.