Iowa Legal Poker

Last Update: March 20, 2015

Online Poker

An online poker bill introduced in March 2013 was largely identical to one that passed the Iowa Senate last year on a 29-20 vote before stalling in the House. This time around, however, the bill didn’t even make out of a subcommittee, scuttling the chance for regulated online poker in Iowa for at least another year. Iowa is likely to take the issue back up during the 2014 legislative session.

An Iowa bill that would allow state casinos to operate intrastate online poker made it out of a State Senate subcommittee this week by a 2-1 vote.

In 2011, at the request of the Iowa General Assembly, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission produced a report on the possible regulation of intrastate online poker. Although the Iowa Senate approved a bill to legalize and regulate online poker by a 29-20 vote in early 2012, a companion measure was never taken up by the Iowa House.

The bill was revived in the Senate in early 2013 as Senate Study Bill 1068. The bill would authorize online poker within the state of Iowa but also permit the state to enter into player-pooling agreements with other states in which online poker is legal.

In the absence of such legislation, the state of the law is unclear. Existing live poker operators in Iowa do not want to jeopardize their licenses by offering games on the internet. From the player perspective, playing online poker may ran afoul of Iowa Code Section 725.7, which prohibits most forms of betting and wagering.

Since their 2013 attempts Iowa has been relatively quiet when it comes to online gambling.

Live Poker

By the terms of Chapter 99F of the Iowa Code, live poker is permitted in Iowa on “excursion gambling boats”, “gambling structures” (which are really just boats that don’t sail), and “racetrack enclosures”. As of early 2013, 18 such boats, structures and racetracks were licensed. Poker is also available at a small handful of tribal casinos that operate in the state under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Under Title III, Subtitle 4, Section 99B.12 of the Iowa Code, home games are permissible in Iowa under certain conditions, including that the game not take place at a school, that nobody profits from the game other than their winnings, and that nobody wins or loses more than $50. While that last requirement would invalidate just about every home game that exists today in Iowa, in practice the state does not make a business of bringing prosecutions against home games.

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