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Sunshine Advisory Bulletin

A Bulletin on Iowa Open Meetings and Public Records Laws
By Attorney General Tom Miller -- January 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.


Citizens who have inquiries or complaints about public records or open meetings may call the Iowa Citizens' Aide/Ombudsman Office -- toll-free at 888-IA-OMBUD (888-426-6283.)

"Sunshine Advisory" bulletins provide information on Iowa's public records and open meetings laws -- our "Sunshine Laws." The bulletins are a resource for public officials and citizens. Local officials should obtain legal advice from their counsel, such as the city or county attorney.

Iowa Attorney General's Office: Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.

On the Web: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.