Sports gambling bill heads to Iowa governor's desk

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - A bill that would allow sports betting in Iowa is headed to Gov. Kim Reynolds for approval, and once again Nebraska is sitting on the sidelines.

It's a safe bet that a lot of Nebraskans will cross the river to bet on their favorite team.

The betting would be allowed at Iowa's 19 regulated casinos, and casino managers in the area expect Husker fans to follow their team. Gov. Reynolds declined throughout the legislative process to say whether she supports it. On Tuesday, she said she will read the bill and review it with her policy team before deciding whether to sign it.

"I think there's a lot of excitement from the general public about it and I actually think we'll see naturally elevated business levels because of people coming in to participate in sports betting," Samir Mowad with the Horseshoe Casino said.

While Iowa celebrates another form of gambling entertainment, the people over at Omaha's Horsemen's Park are dealing with a shrinking industry and dwindling attendance.

"For us, we're in the same position we've been in for 24, 25 years with Council Bluffs and Iowa having full-blown casinos and our hands are still tied with simply being able to do simulcasting, keno and live racing. It's going to have a detrimental effect on Horsemen's Park for sure," Mike Newlin said.

The Horsemen's Park general manager said the only edge they have is live horse racing scheduled for nine days this year.

"Live racing as you know is very expensive. Last year we put out over a half million dollars in purses," Newlin said.

Iowa casinos hope to add another form of entertainment to their playbooks and plan to build a space to accommodate the sports gambling.

"A place that draws people in to watch the games and to make us a destination. Just another entertainment option," Moward said.

A few years ago there was a petition effort to expand gambling at Nebraska's licensed horse tracks. It failed.

Nebraska will have to try again if they want to keep up with what's going on in Iowa.

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