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Sports betting bills ready for committee action in Iowa House, Senate

DES MOINES — The Iowa House and Senate are considering two similar plans to legalize sports betting after hearing from several competing interests that want a stake in the potential new industry.

Both would allow casinos to host in-person and mobile sports betting. However, the House version does not require a trip to the casino to sign up for placing bets with a smart phone app. Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton is leading the House effort to craft a plan to legalize sports betting.

“If you’re going to bring this out of the shadows, you want to bring this out of the shadows quicker,” Kaufmann says.

Kaufmann’s bill also sets a state tax rate on the casinos’ sports betting revenue. It would be six-and-three-quarters percent under the House version. Senators working on the issue say they’ll decide on the tax rate later. Senator Tony Bisignano of Des Moines, a Democrat, says that’s the main component of any plan.

“What does the state make out of this? I mean that’s the incentive for the state,” he says. “The state has no other reason to care about sports betting other than revenue.”

The sports betting bills in the legislature also make it legal for Iowans to claim huge fantasy sports prizes from sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. Iowans can participate in on-line fantasy sports now, but they can’t claim more than $200 in prizes in a 24-hour period.

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