Reports have shown that sports betting has been extremely popular in Iowa in 2021, with the annual revenue from this form of gambling surpassing $2 billion. As a result, the share received by the state has also grown, and so has the local lawmakers’ interest in spending the fresh tax revenue.
House Speaker Pat Grassley recently shared that the money received from sports betting by the state of Iowa was probably a little more than initially expected. This is why Mr. Grassley suggested it was time for local Legislators to start a conversation regarding the spending of the almost $13 million generated as a result of the 6.75% tax on sports betting services in the state.
According to reports, Iowa residents wagered a total of $2 billion in 2021 – a sum that greatly exceeded the $575 million spent on the new form of gambling in 2020. Only in December 2021, local punters spent almost $266.5 million on the activity, accounting for an average of more than $8.5 million every day. And the amount was still less than the records they set in November.
The Legislative Services Agency revealed that since the beginning of the current fiscal year that started on July 1st, 2021, the state of Iowa has collected overall sports betting tax revenue worth $4.9 million.
More Money Should Be Spent on Community Projects and on Mental Health, Lawmakers Say
The massive increase in the sports betting revenue in 2021 is considered to be mainly due to the fact that local customers are now given the opportunity to set up an online sports betting account and place wagers on sports events through their personal computer or smartphone rather than being physically present at a casino to open a sports betting account.
According to reports, about 91% of the sports betting in Iowa is currently done online, and not at local casinos.
Now, with the larger gambling revenue brought to the state’s coffers, the question is what will the local lawmakers use the money for. As revealed by the House Speaker, Iowa Legislators are considering some measures that would benefit local residents.
During the first committee meeting of the 2022 legislative session both Bobby Kaufmann, who is currently the Chairman of the House State Government, and Democratic Representative Mascher called for the state Legislature to consider various ways to use sports betting revenue.
According to Mr. Kaufmann, legislators did well when they gave the green light to the new form of gambling. He shared that he would like to see the sports betting revenue directed to the counties that are not home to any of the state casinos. Currently, there are 19 licensed casinos operating in the state of Iowa. The House State Government’s Chairman believes that the piece of legislation seeking to redirect extra sports betting revenue to non-casino counties in order to ensure financial support for various community services would receive bipartisan support.
On the other hand, Democratic Representative Mascher suggested that the extra money generated from sports betting should be spent on mental health. She wants to see the authorities appropriate money from the Sports Wagering Receipts Fund to the Gambling Treatment Program established by the state Department of Public Health. According to reports, a total of 300,000 were appropriated by Iowa lawmakers in fiscal 2020 to the program. The appropriated funds for the program rose to $1.75 million in fiscal 2021.
Ms. Mascher shared her concern that problem gambling and gambling-related harm rates will increase among Iowans since the state has made it extremely easy for local people to set up an online gambling account and place bets from the comfort of their homes or through their smartphones. She said there are not enough social workers and counselors in the state to address the potential problems that are directly linked to sports betting.