Horse Agreement and Referendum Repeal Pass Committee

Senate File 526 codifies an agreement between the various horse groups regarding horse racing and the purse structure. The bill also repeals the gambling referendum currently required by Iowa Code. Finally, the bill directs that a study on internet poker be conducted and submitted to the General Assembly this year. Senate File 526 passed the Senate by a vote of 38 to 12 last week and passed through the House State Government committee this week by a vote of 20-3.

The bill states that starting next year the commission shall regulate the purse structure for all horse racing so that 76 percent is designated for thoroughbred racing, 15.25 percent for quarterhorse racing, and 8.75 percent for standardbred racing.

The bill further requires that the purse for standardbred racing be used to support standardbred harness racing purses at the state fair, county fairs, or other harness racing tracks approved by the commission, or for the maintenance or repair of harness racing tracks. This means that there will no longer be standardbred racing at Prairie Meadows.

Senate File 526 adds new language to define a process for advanced deposit wagering at Prairie Meadows. The bill defines advanced deposit wagering as a method of pari-mutuel wagering where a person can set up an account, deposit money, and use the account for pari-mutuel wagering. The bill requires that of the net revenue (less taxes and expenses) made by Prairie Meadows on advanced deposit wagering, 50 percent will go to the horse purses and 50 percent will go to Prairie Meadows.

Referendum Repeal
Senate File 526 repeals the county referendum requirement to put the issue on the ballot every eight years to continue or begin operating a gaming establishment. The bill states that if such a proposition is approved twice (successively) by a majority of the county electorate, a subsequent submission and approval of a proposition will not be required. This language is retroactive to elections occurring on or after January 1, 1994 and is effective upon enactment.

An electorate can still however vote to put the issue on the ballot by petition. The petition must meet current petition requirements (signed by a number equal to 10 percent of votes cast for the last presidential or gubernatorial election) to put a referendum on the ballot. This essentially creates a reverse referendum.

Internet Poker
The bill also requires the state Racing and Gaming Commission to submit a report to the General Assembly by December 1, 2011 regarding the creation of a framework for the state regulation of intrastate internet poker. The report will consider the current state of unregulated internet poker play in Iowa, consumer protection, and responsible gaming measures that can be implemented through regulation, licensing structure, regulatory recommendations, and affiliations with licensees regulated and the collection of wagering taxes. The report does not have to make specific recommendations regarding the legalization of internet poker in Iowa.

Senate File 526 now moves to the floor for further consideration.