Senate bill seeks study of ‘exchange wagering’

Betfair Exchange WageringBy Bob Eschliman


A bill offered last week in the Iowa Senate wants to explore a potential new source of income for casinos – which would, in turn, be a new source of revenue for the state.

Senate Study Bill 1256, proposed by the Senate Committee on State Government, would require the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to conduct a study on “exchange wagering.” Exchange wagering started in Europe, where it has become wildly popular with bettors, and has begun springing up across the U.S.

It is an online system of betting where betting propositions are matched, by mutual agreement, between bettors. As an example, a bettor may be interested in wagering up to $100 on a particular horse to win the Kentucky Derby; if another bettor is willing to wager up to that amount, they can be matched.

The bettor can put all $100 into a single bet, or spread them across multiple bets, at his or her choice. The book that pairs the match receives a commission, generally less than 5 percent, of the winner’s take.

Betfair is considered the leader in hosting exchange wagering.

SSB 1256 would require the IRGC to consider the financial and regulatory impact of allowing exchange wagering in conducting the study. If approved, the bill requires the commission to submit a report on its findings to the General Assembly by Dec. 1.

A number of lobbyist groups have declared they are “undecided” on the proposed legislation. None have taken a position for or against the bill.