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Iowa Fantasy Sports One Step Closer to Regulation

March 14, 2016
Fantasy Sports

On March 10, a committee in the Iowa House approved an important bill that could completely change the face of daily fantasy sports inside of the state’s borders. This bill would set up a set of guidelines for the taxing, legalization and regulation of the DFS industry for the state, and it will now be heading to the Ways and Means committee, the committee over all additions and changes to tax code. If this bill continues to get action, it could be held for consideration and a vote later in 2016.

Two Major Actions in Two Month’s

Here’s why this legislation is so important for players: Under the current letter of the law, it’s illegal for players in Iowa to receive their cash outs from previous play on sites like FanDuel and DraftKings. Back in February, the Iowa Senate approved a bill that would have changed this to simply allow players to receive their funds. The House is currently dealing with that particular bill, which could become law regardless of the outcome of the all-out regulatory bill described above. If the House passes this bill, then it will be great news for the more than 350,000 Iowans that have participated in these events.

Iowa’s odd set of laws regarding gambling are much different than those of many other states, and they do not use what’s known as a “Dominant Factor” test when deciding if something is gambling or not. Any contest with any measure of chance is considered gambling inside of the state, a criterion that’s considered ridiculous by many. To fully understand why it’s so ridiculous, with this criterion, you could make a strong argument that chess tournaments with paid entry fees and cash prizes are gambling under Iowa state law.

The Typical Opposition

Both of these pieces of legislation are facing the typical opposition. This consists of politicians claiming that opening their doors to any expansion in gambling will increase crime and the number of people who are addicted to gambling.

These concerns, of course, are silly at best. People who have a gambling problem are going to gamble regardless, and at least with state supervision, they’ll be gambling in an environment that will offer them easy access to options to get help for compulsive gambling habits.

There are even many industry experts who have shown over and over again that regulating gambling, particular that of online gambling, will actually decrease the percentage of people who have issues with compulsive gambling because the funds given by tax revenues are used to fund so many great programs.

The Future of Daily Fantasy Sports in Iowa

As far as the future of these two bills are concerned, the future looks positive, particularly for the bill that’s already passed the Senate regarding legalizing cash outs for fantasy sports winnings. This bill not only affects daily fantasy sports contests, but it also focuses on traditional fantasy sports, which have been around for well over a decade.

As far as the daily fantasy sports niche goes, this could pave the way for better chances for other legalized and regulated forms of online gambling in the state of Iowa. These things have to progress one step at a time, but there’s no denying that a state that creates a regulatory body for DFS will be more likely to eventually create one for more traditional forms of legal online gambling ┬álike poker, casino and bingo.