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Iowa Online Gambling Up in the Air

Though Iowa is among those states flirting with the idea of online gambling, it doesn’t seem that it will take action any time soon.

The chief of the Iowa Lottery has told state lawmakers that he expects electronic delivery of the state’s lottery to be implemented “fast”, but that he would make no moves without legislative approval.

Iowa has a particularly bad history with state-run online gambling; in 2006 the state ended a video lottery product called Touch-Play, paying some $18.4 million to settle claims brought against the gaming system in the process.

Senate President Jack Kibbie said he thinks “lawmakers are skittish about further forays into electronic-based wagering for at least several years,” per Iowa’s Quad-City Times.

The lottery chief advised legislators about the “advantage to having some involvement in new technologies”, and that would allow the state to “legislate controls and regulations to bar players under age 21, prohibit gambling on credit, confine the activity to inside Iowa’s borders and guard against criminal or illegal activities,” the Times article continued.

The lawmakers themselves, however, made it clear that they’re not interested in expanding into electronic gambling at the moment, even despite the lottery chief’s estimate that the state could statnd to make perhaps $1 billion a year.

“He is keeping a close eye on industry developments,” the article continues, “but he assured the legislative panel he would not move ahead with any phone- or Internet-based gambling activities that are in full use in Canada and Europe without first getting the legislative go-ahead.”

That attitude may change if New Jersey finalizes its online gambling plans, and if other states like California and Florida follow suit. The bottom line is that Iowa is looking at a new online gambling system that would be similar to Canadian systems, but seems fearful of taking the plunge in the current political climate.

“I’ve yet to hear any sort of large voice saying we want to have online gambling or we want to have gambling on smartphones,” said Rep. Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, the other committee co-chairman. “I have not heard that message from Iowans yet. I don’t think there’s any groundswell of support for that, and until we hear that, I think it’s a dead issue frankly.”