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Iowa Online Poker & Gambling Legislation Status

Iowa PokerIf you are a poker player, then you will love the state of Iowa. They have many ways for people to legally play poker within their state. Whether you like to play poker at a casino, with your friends at a home game, or at a charitable event Iowa has a game for you. Internet poker games have yet to be addressed by Iowa poker laws, but there are many sites offering games to players from Iowa.

Can Players From Iowa Play Real Money Poker Online?

Yes! Players from Iowa will have no problems finding an online poker site to play at. If the online poker site accepts players from the United States, then it accepts players from Iowa to play online poker for real money. The major hurdle that US players face is depositing money. The strict rules from the UIGEA has made this harder over the years, but it is definitely not impossible. Many US players are still playing real money poker online.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Iowa?

The legality of online poker in the state of Iowa is still a gray area at this point. The state of Iowa has many laws pertaining to gambling in general, but there are currently no laws that specifically address online poker or online gambling in general. There is no mention of the internet in their laws pertaining to gambling.

Under the current Iowa laws on gambling some of the laws could be interpreted as making it illegal to play poker online, but since it is not written that online poker is illegal it would probably be an interesting court case if anyone was ever charged. To date, no one has been charged with gambling online in Iowa. The Gaming and Betting Penalty section of the Iowa Statues is clarified in Section 725.7. We have some overviews of this law that may pertain to non-regulated poker below:

  • A person shall not participate in a game for any sum of money or other property of any value.
  • A person shall not make any bet.
  • A person who violates this section is guilty of illegal gaming in the fourth degree if sum of money is less than $100. Illegal gaming in the fourth degree constitutes the following:
    • A serious misdemeanor for first offense.
    • An aggravated misdemeanor for second offense.
    • A class “D” felony for third offense.
    • A class “C” felony for fourth or subsequent offense.
  • A person who violates this section is guilty of illegal gaming in the third degree if the sum of money or value of other property involved exceeds one hundred dollars but does not exceed five hundred dollars. Illegal gambling in the third degree constitutes the following:
    • An aggravated misdemeanor for first offense.
    • A class “D” felony for second offense.
    • A class “C felony for third or subsequent offense.
  • A person who violates this section is guilty of illegal gaming in the second degree if the sum of money or value of other property involved exceeds five hundred dollars but does not exceed five thousand dollars. Illegal gambling in the second degree constitutes the following:
    • A class “D” felony for a first offense.
    • A class “C” felony for a second offense.
  • A person who violates this section is guilty of illegal gaming in the first degree if the sum of money or value of other property involved exceeds five thousand dollars. Illegal gambling in the first degree constitutes a class “C” felony. [1]
  • Casino Nights for charity functions are permitted with proper licensing.
  • Home poker games are legal as long as all players have a bona fide social relationship, no player loses more than $50, and no one takes a rake or fee to play the game. (Section 99B.12)

Iowa has some of the most severe penalties in the United States when it comes to gambling. The above is a summary of the laws that we have found pertaining to gambling in Iowa. We are in no way trying to give legal advice. We suggest that you contact a lawyer if you would like clarity on any of the gambling laws in Iowa including the legality of online poker.

Iowa Gambling History

The majority of the gambling legislation in Iowa today has taken place within the last 30 years. We are sure that Iowans gambled before this time, but the people that gambled before then were doing so illegally.

In 1983, the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act was signed into law. This allowed betting on horse races and dog races in the state of Iowa. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission was created to review applications and grant licenses to qualifying race tracks. The Pari-mutuel wagers at the racetracks were expanded in 1989 to include simulcast races.

The bill that permitted simulcast races also legalized casinos on riverboats. The riverboat gambling was dependent individual counties voting and approving the casinos in their county. Immediately following the new legislation for riverboat casinos, 8 counties voted and approved riverboat casinos in their counties. The first riverboat casino opened in 1991. [2]

In 1992, the Department of Inspections and Appeals for Native American Indians signed compacts with the governor of Iowa to allow Tribal Gaming. The commission that oversees the riverboat casinos has no jurisdiction over the Tribal Casinos. Three Tribal Casinos began operating almost immediately after the compacts were signed in 1992.

Over the years many more riverboat casinos were granted licenses. The government also decided to ease up on the restrictions and allow land based casinos to be legalized. There are currently over 15 casinos throughout the state of Iowa. Many people think that Iowa will make a move to legalize online gambling soon, but that has not happened yet.

Legalized Gambling Options in Iowa

Iowa has a huge variety of legal options for gambling within the state. Casinos galore are found spread throughout the state of Iowa. Charitable bingo halls can be found in almost every town. The Iowa state lottery provides the traditional lottery along with scratch off tickets. Iowans will find a variety of charitable gambling events to participate in every year. If you aren’t comfortable with a crowd, then you and your buddies can legally get together and have a home game of poker as long as no one takes a rake and the bets do not exceed $50. If you live in Iowa, and you like to gamble then you should have no problems finding a legal gambling venue to your liking.

Will Iowa Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

It seems very likely that Iowa will pass legislation to legalize online poker soon. Iowa has already taken an interest in the online poker industry. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission prepared a report on the estimated rake that would be generated on intrastate internet poker. The commission estimated that the taxes brought in by the state on internet poker would range from $3 million to $13 million a year.

Iowa decided to move forward with an internet poker bill. The bill passed the senate, but the house never moved on the bill. The bill ended up dying in the house since there was never a vote on it. Iowa plans to reintroduce the bill and hopefully legalize online poker.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Iowa Gaming and Betting Penalty
  2. Jump up ^ Iowa Gaming History
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