Another Poker Bill Bites The Dust In Iowa

Just as American online poker proponents were starting to believe that intrastate legislation was a real possibility in Iowa, that possibility is gone. Yesterday a number of proposals were denied a vote in a funnel legislative session, and the intrastate online poker bill was one of them. Iowa sets these do-or-die deadlines in an effort to pass the most important bills and weed out the most divisive ones as quickly as possible, and the poker bill unfortunately fell under the latter category.

Part of the problem is that one chamber of Iowa’s legislature is controlled by the pro-poker Democrats, and the other is controlled by the strongly poker opposed Republicans. When it became obvious that the Democrats were going to nix a number of the Republicans’ key proposals, the Republican legislators responded in kind, and the poker bill was one of their casualties.

Not all hope is lost for online poker in Iowa, but the chances of the state seeing it happen this year are slim to none. That’s because the online poker bill – SF 458 – isn’t yet dead, but rather than debating it on the Senate floor it’s been sent to the Racing and Gaming Commission for research. Depending on what else is on the Commission’s agenda, it could take months before a report can be compiled and even longer before that report can be presented to the legislature again for an official vote.

While most of the poker press has interpreted the delay as a bad sign for the future of online poker in the state, others see this as an opportunity to win over the bill’s largest opponents, or at the very least to bring it back at a time when the legislature isn’t so politically charged. Seeing as the bill did receive passing votes from all the committees that reviewed it prior to its appearance in the Senate, it does seem entirely possible that the Commission will likewise find it deserving of a second chance.

Meanwhile, a similar bill in Nevada – AB 258 – is still on its way to a vote, and this one is backed not only by the Nevada Assembly Majority Whip, William Horne, but by some of the state’s biggest financial players. Wynn has been pushing for the passage of the bill since its introduction, but the path isn’t as clear as many poker fans initially assumed. In the last week, two of the state’s other large gambling interests – Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts – have expressed their dissatisfaction with the state bill, saying that they would rather wait for the more comprehensive federal licensing proposal.

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