Iowan Governor Weighs in on Online Gambling Bill

22 March 2011

As the Iowa bill to legalize online gambling within their state goes from a Senate committee to the floor to be possibly voted on, Governor Terry Branstad was asked Monday what he stance is on the bill. It seems he has taken a page from New Jersey’s Governor Christies play book and is playing it right down the middle, for now.

At a news conference, Branstad said;

“Some of the people who are promoting it are saying, ‘You’ve got this illegal offshore gambling that’s going on. We want to prevent that from occurring and this would be a way of having it done legally instead of it being done illegally without the state getting any benefit from it.”

There are currently 18 state licensed casinos in Iowa along with a state lottery and Native American casinos and Branstad commented that he considers Iowa to have a mature gambling market. Though he did say he did not advocate online gambling he went on to comment,

“This is kind of a new phenomenon and as I understand it, it’s a pretty significant issue and one that I think deserves to be very carefully studied. I want to make sure the integrity of the state is protected in the process and we certainly want to prevent our citizens from being defrauded by unscrupulous activities.”

So asked directly if he would veto the bill if it ever reached his desk from the Iowa legislator and again we get a down the middle political response,

“It’s usually my policy not to threaten veto on anything until I’ve seen it in its final form,” he said. “Things could change dramatically and I think it’s important to learn as much as I can before staking out a position. I learned this a long time ago that it’s important to have all the facts and all the information and not just make a snap judgment based on an inadequate amount of information.”

The people of Iowa are not so undecided however. In a poll conducted by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines of 800 Iowa adults Feb 13-16, 73% oppose the idea of online gambling. 61% between the ages of 18-34 are against the idea as well. This is an overwhelming number considering this is the demographic most attribute to already gambling online.

So this is shaping up almost identical to the way New Jersey played out. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if this bill gets as far as that one did and how will the big casino companies, solidly on the side of a federal mandate, react if it does go to the Governor for approval.

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