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Iowa Regulators Ready to OK Online Poker in Hawkeye State

With the Fiscal Cliff plunge a near economic reality in the United States, individual states are looking to add much needed revenue to their coffers. Rather than hope and pray that the federal level of legislators will contain the impending economic doom that appears close to inevitable, states like New Jersey and California are edging closer to joining Nevada and Delaware as online poker providers for their residents and travelers. And out of left field we all of a sudden have a new player in the United States online poker conversation.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) recently went out of their way to make public statements that overseeing and regulating online poker in the Hawkeye State should not be viewed as an obstacle for online poker in Iowa. Following closely on the heels of New Jersey Senators passing the ball to Governor Christie for online poker approval in the Garden State, and California announcing a reintroduction of online gambling legislation upcoming in that state, Iowa’s IRGC seems prepared to have a very positive attitude toward any pro-online poker piece of legislation.

Radio Iowa first reported the recent announcement by IRGC chairman Jeff Lamberti, when he was interviewed during an episode of Iowa Press that was due to air on December 28. Making references to online poker, Lamberti stated it is his belief that particular virtual vehicle is the direction in which gaming is moving. Making reference to Nevada and Delaware, he stated that “we’ve seen some states approve it, and (we) are moving in that direction.” At this late date in 2012, this certainly appears to be a legislative issue for Iowa in early 2013.

However, after the Iowa Senate File 2257 for online poker passed on a 29 to 20 vote last March, the more conservative and Republican dominated State House tabled that piece of legislation without a vote. Republicans and conservatives nationwide in the United States been more anti-online poker than Democrats and liberals, and any new measure would have to be drawn up in such a way as to appeal to both sides of the political aisle. The prior attempt at legalizing online poker in Iowa called for a joint relationship with the nearly 20 physical casinos in that state.

Wes Ehrecke is the executive director of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA), and speaking on behalf of that organization and in response to the IRGC statement, he stated the IGA would like to have online poker delivered through the brick-and-mortar casino’s websites. He went on to state that the IRGC would handle regulation. No time frame has been set by legislators for a reintroduction of an Iowa online poker measure, but this positive declaration by the IRGC could help get the political ball rolling in favor of online poker in Iowa.