Iowa Casinos Looking Forward to Tax Break as Nebraska Competition Rises

Updated On Feb 27, 2024 by Ella McDonald


  • Iowa’s 19 casinos pay graduated taxes on gross revenue from table games and slots.
  • Bloomingdale wants her House Study Bill 719 to cut these taxes in the upcoming three years.
  • The measure would support gaming licensees fighting Nebraska’s competitor casinos.

For the time being, Iowa hosts 15 brick-and-mortar casinos, one racino, and three riverboats that give access to table games, slots, and sports betting options.

Table games and slot machine games generate a gross revenue that is subjected to a graduated tax.

Most of these venues fall under the highest level of tax set at 22%. This applies to all casinos generating a minimum of $3 million in gross gaming revenue in any given year.

Iowa Representative Jane Bloomingdale (R-Worth) is determined to see the state lower these taxes as a way of throwing a hand at the gaming industry in the context of the competition shown by neighboring Nebraska and its casinos.

The Need for Capital Investments

In an attempt to give the Hawkeye State’s gaming industry a competitive edge, Bloomingdale wishes to see a lowering in the level of taxes imposed on casinos, following the same tax drop trend applied to individuals and corporations.

The Representative believes that not making the tax cut for casinos would not be “fair”, which is why she introduced House Study Bill 719 last week.

Should the bill pass in the Legislature and be inked by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), its effects would trigger a significant cut in the commercial gaming tax on table games and slots income in the next three years.

The proposal was already welcomed by a House Ways and Means subcommittee. In other words, the bill is expected to receive a House File number as well as consideration from the full committee.

Keeping Up With Competition

Except for 2020’s numbers, Iowa’s commercial gaming industry has shown growth every year from 2014 onward.

The gross gaming revenue went up from $1.39 billion in 2014 to $1.94 billion in 2023.

The exclusion of revenue from sports betting might have caused in-person tables and slots to go down 1.2% on a YoY basis in 2023.

It is assumed that Nebraska is responsible for this in the context of the temporary casinos that it has opened recently, which caused Council Bluffs’ casinos to take a big hit since Nebraskans can finally enjoy gaming without having to cross the Missouri River.

According to lobbyist Mark Joyce who represents Diamond Jo casinos in Dubuque and Northwood, the proposed tax break would allow Iowa casinos to make the necessary renovations and amenity upgrades so they can compete with Nebraska’s freshest openings.

If approved, the bill would cut the slot and casino table tax to 21% starting July 1, 2024, dropping to 20% then eventually reaching 19% on July 1, 2026, when it would remain in perpetuity.

The reductions would apply to riverboat and land-based venues while racinos would face a slightly higher tax.

Ella McDonald Author

Worldwide gambling related news stories are what you will find being written by Ella, she has a keen interest however in UK and European based new stories relating to all gaming environments, and she is always prepared to ask the difficult questions many other journalists avoiding asking those in power.

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