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January 1, 2006

The Open Meetings Law Applies to Nonprofits Licensed to Conduct Pari-Mutuel Wagering or Gambling Games

The Open Meetings Law applies to "governmental" bodies as defined by statute. Generally, nonprofit corporations are not "governmental" bodies; however, nonprofit corporations licensed to conduct pari-mutuel wagering or gambling games are defined as "governmental" bodies and, as a result, must comply with the Open Meetings Law. This means, for example, the public is entitled to notice and a tentative agenda, a meeting must be held at a place reasonably convenient to the public, and the public is entitled to attend.

"Governmental" bodies include nonprofit corporations that have the following characteristics under Iowa Code sec. 21.2:

  • Property Tax Revenue & Gambling Licenses: The law applies to nonprofit corporations "whose facilities or indebtedness are supported in whole or in part with property tax revenue" and who are "licensed to conduct pari-mutuel wagering" under Iowa Code Chapter 99D. ( But a "fair" conducting a "fair event" is specifically excluded. Iowa Code sec. 21.2(1)(f).) The law applies to these nonprofit corporations only when meetings "relate to the conduct of pari-mutuel racing and wagering." Iowa Code sec. 21.11.
  • Successor Corporations: The law applies to a nonprofit corporation which is the successor to a nonprofit corporation that built a gambling facility. Iowa Code sec. 21.2(1)(f).
  • Gambling Games: The law applies to nonprofit corporations "licensed to conduct gambling games" under Iowa Code Chapter 99F. Iowa Code sec. 21.2(1)(g).

In summary: The Open Meetings Law assures that the public has access to meetings of "governmental" bodies, which include nonprofits licensed to conduct pari-mutuel wagering or gambling games in casinos at racetracks or on riverboats. Other nonprofits, of course, may opt to follow the Open Meetings Law even if compliance is not required by law.

Sunshine advisories are a general resource for government officials and citizens on Iowa's public records and open meetings laws – our "sunshine” laws.  Local officials should obtain legal advice from their counsel, such as the city or county attorney.

The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) is an independent board that the Iowa Legislature established specifically to address open meetings and open records-related matters.  The IPIB provides information to the public and governmental entities on "sunshine" issues.

The IPIB, which has jurisdiction and authority to investigate and enforce Iowa's open meetings and open records laws, enables citizens to file a complaint if they believe that someone is violating these laws.

Citizens who have inquiries or complaints about public records or open meetings should contact the Iowa Public Information Board. Iowa Public Information Board.

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Updated December 1, 2014

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