The rush of legal sports betting sweeping through the nation has hit Iowa, and the state’s casinos wasted no time getting things rolled out for the 2019 football season.
After legislation paved the way in May 2019, the first Iowa sportsbooks officially opened for business on Aug. 15, 2019. While not everyone was ready for day one, there were 13 legal Iowa sportsbooks up and running by the first few weeks of football season, with options scattered throughout the state – you’re never likely to be more than a few hours away from a betting shop if you’re within state borders. Five more books opened by October.
Iowa initially launched with an in-person registration mandate, but as of January 1, 2021, that restriction has been lifted. This means that you can register for an account, make your deposit, and start betting right away from anywhere with an internet connection.
This page will serve to orient readers to the legal Iowa sports betting market.
Best legal Iowa online sportsbooks
Getting started at Iowa online sports betting sites
Customers looking to bet on sports must be 21 years old or older in Iowa, whether they’re betting at retail books or online.
Sports bettors looking to place wagers online simply have to make sure they’re located within Iowa borders. As many of the state’s casinos are located near borders of states like Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota that don’t have legal sports betting, that effectively opens up the market to residents of those states as well.
Again, players do not need to hold residence in Iowa to place a bet; they only must be physically present in the state. If they’re using a mobile device to place wagers, geolocation technology is used to pinpoint their location.
Iowa offers a voluntary self-exclusion program for gambling. Individuals who sign paperwork agree to an irrevocable lifetime ban from all state-licensed casinos, as well as other affiliated properties around the country. It follows that those on the list, cannot place sports wagers.
Also, players will need to verify their age and identity via a government-issued ID when registering a mobile account.
Those who win over $1,200 at the book must also provide a social security number.
Iowa online sportsbooks: The books
|Online Sportsbook||Retail Partner||Online Launch||Online Registration|
|FanDuel Sportsbook||Diamond Jo||Sept. 3, 2020||Yes|
|PointsBet Sportsbook||Catfish Bend||Nov. 26, 2019||Yes|
|DraftKings Sportsbook||Wild Rose||Feb. 19, 2020||Yes|
|BetMGM Sportsbook||Diamond Jo Worth||Jan. 4 2021||Yes|
|Caesars Sportsbook (formerly William Hill)||Isle Bettendorf/Isle Waterloo/Prarie Meadows/Lakeside||Aug. 15, 2019||Yes|
|BetRivers Sportsbook||Wild Rose||Jan. 4 2021||Yes|
|Elite Sportsbook||Rhythm City/ Riverside/Grand Falls||Aug. 27, 2019||Yes|
|BetFred||Grand Falls||July 7, 2020||Yes|
|Q Sportsbook||Q Casino||Nov. 12, 2019||Yes|
|Hard Rock||Hard Rock Sioux City||Dec. 16, 2019||Yes|
|theScore Bet||Ameristar-Council Bluffs||Feb. 16, 2021||Yes
Iowa casinos can have up to two online partners, and several other options may be available in the coming months, including FOX Bet, and Caesars.
PointsBet is partnered with Catfish Bend Casino. And Isle Bettendorf and Isle Waterloo are owned by Eldorado Resorts, which had an existing arrangement with FOX partner, The Stars Group (since acquired by Flutter Entertainment). Harrah’s Council Bluff and Horseshoe Casino both are partnered with Scientific Games, which powers multiple Caesars’ books via its OpenSports product suite.
As previously mentioned, Iowa casinos have not been hesitant to jump into the sports betting market, as 18 of 19 casinos have live retail books in operations just a few months after the Aug. 15, 2019 opening date.
|Prairie Meadows||Caesars Sportsbook||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Lakeside Casino||Caesars Sportsbook||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Isle Casino Waterloo||Caesars Sportsbook||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Isle Casino Bettendorf||Caesars Sportsbook||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Rhythm City Casino||Elite Sportsbook||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Riverside Casino||Elite Sportsbook||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Ameristar Council Bluffs||The Sportsbook at Ameristar Council Bluffs||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Catfish Bend Casino||PointsBet Sportsbook||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Diamond Jo Worth||FanDuel Sportsbook||Aug. 29, 2019|
|Diamond Jo Dubuque||FanDuel Sportsbook||Sept. 4, 2019|
|Q Casino Hotel||Q Sportsbook||Aug. 26, 2019|
|Harrah's Council Bluffs||The Book||Aug. 23, 2019|
|Grand Falls Casino||Elite Sportsbook||Aug. 31, 2019|
|Hard Rock Sioux City||Sportsbook at Hard Rock Sioux City||Sept. 20, 2019|
|Horseshoe Council Bluffs||The Book||Aug. 23, 2019|
|Wild Rose Clinton||DraftKings Sportsbook||Oct. 4, 2019|
|Wild Rose Emmetsburg||DraftKings Sportsbook||Oct. 4, 2019|
|Wild Rose Jefferson||DraftKings Sportsbook||Oct. 4, 2019|
Iowa sports betting is restricted to the Iowa casinos that apply for licenses, with 18 of the 19 having launched at this point. As of this point, there’s no indication that Casino Marquette will join the market.
Laws and regulations
When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was repealed by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018, it opened the way for the legalizing of sports betting on a state-by-state basis. New Jersey had led the way in challenging the 1992 legislation that outlawed sports betting outside of the markets that were grandfathered in, but many states were ready to pounce the second the PASPA roadblock was cleared.
Iowa became the 11th state with legal sports betting when it launched Aug. 15, 2019, about 15 months after PASPA was struck down. The Hawkeye State followed in the footsteps of Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Indiana and North Carolina, all of which passed legislation in 2018 and 2019.
Iowa’s sports betting law puts the industry under the regulation of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Casinos with sportsbooks must pay $45,000 upfront for a license and then a $10,000 renewal fee each year after that. Revenues are taxed at 6.75%. Each operator can offer up to two “skins” with which customers can bet.
Iowa did not cave to the sports leagues and include integrity fees.
Online and mobile sports betting in Iowa, while allowed under the law, will likely be a bit slow to take off as it requires in-person registration until Jan. 1, 2021.
With a slew of popular college teams in the state, Iowa legislators opted to build in some protections in the law. Prop bets and in-game prop bets involving in-state college teams aren’t allowed.
History of sports betting in Iowa
Gambling in Iowa dates to the 1980s, when horse racing and dog racing, as well as pari-mutuel betting, paved the way for the first riverboat and tribal casinos in 1991 and 1992, respectively.
March 1994 saw more legislation enacted that clarified the market. The age limit was raised from 18 to 21, and loss limits of $200 per day and $5 per hand were lifted. However, sports betting still wasn’t part of the equation due to PASPA.
When PASPA was repealed, Iowa casinos were ready, and so were lawmakers. Less than a year after the repeal, momentum really began in February and March 2019 when committees in both legislative chambers approved bills. Votes were close, 13-10 in the House and 8-6 in the Senate.
However, when the bills advanced to the full chambers in April, they cleared with more comfortable margins. The House vote came down 67-31 while the Senate approved 31-18.
In May 2019, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed SF617 into law, clearing the way for retail and mobile sports betting.
Unlike some states in which legislation passing only leads to a lengthy regulatory process, Iowa regulators didn’t take long to get the ball rolling. Only about three months after legislation was passed, Iowa sportsbooks were accepting bets on Aug. 15, with Midwest sports stars hosting galas and placing honorary bets to kick things off at many venues.
While not all the books were open at launch, 18 of the state’s 19 casinos had operating sportsbooks by October 2019.
Despite all of the progress, comprehensive online gambling isn’t yet a thing in Iowa. Online poker and online casino aren’t legal yet and don’t appear likely on the docket.
Fantasy sports players did get thrown a bone when DraftKings and FanDuel were approved and opened for business in October 2019 and November 2019, respectively, after years of being barred.