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Iowa Lawmakers Need Creativity To Keep Online Poker Bill Alive

Iowa lawmakers have started to look at creative options to keep an online poker bill alive this session. Today, the deadline passes for non-money issues to be resolved in the Legislature, and without the House taking up the issue, the bill the Senate passed earlier this week would be dismissed.

The House started to take up the online poker bill on Thursday, but that did not leave enough time to move it through a committee and on to the House floor for a vote before the deadline passes today. The delay is forcing pro-gaming lawmakers to consider different options to have the bill passed this session.

"We really didn't expect it to come over from the Senate," said House State Government Chairman Peter Cownie. Those sentiments were shared by other members of the House, who believe the Senate did not do a good job of relaying their thoughts to the House during the process.

"What are we? Week 10?," said House Speaker Kraig Paulsen. "I don't know if I've had three members mention this subject to me...until this week when the big hubbub was."

House lawmakers are pointing to gaming lobbyists that have made the online poker bill a major issue in the past couple of weeks. The push for online gambling regulations picked up late last year, shortly after the Department of Justice issued an opinion reversing the governments long standing opinion that all online gambling was illegal under the Wire Act.

Iowa has become one of the leaders in the US gambling industry over the past decade, and lawmakers in the state have been lobbying to become one of the first states to regulate Internet gambling. Nevada has already authorized online casinos, and New Jersey is in the process of doing the same.

The benefits of moving quickly on an online poker bill have been documented by pro-gaming legislators. Iowa, according to a study conducted on Internet gambling, would stand to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue from the games, while employment opportunities would also be an added bonus to any such gaming bill that is passed.

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