Iowa Casinos Requesting ‘Aggressive Timetable’ For Sportsbooks, Regulator Says

Casino gambling regulators in Iowa are moving quickly on implementing the state's newly passed sports wagering law.
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Iowa is slowly but surely moving toward kicking off sports betting this year.

The state legalized sports wagering in May and officials expect to have books open in August, according to The Courier. At an Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission hearing last week, a state regulator told commissioners that the casinos in the state are eager to begin betting for the upcoming NFL football season.

“The industry is requesting a pretty aggressive timetable to have things implemented by August,” Brian Ohorilko, Director of Gaming at the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, said at the hearing. “We’re doing everything we can to do that, but making sure that we’re doing it the right way.”

Three casinos received conditional approval for building sportsbooks at the Thursday meeting, among other related sports betting signs-offs. According to the report, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort near Larchwood and Lakeside Casino near Osceola are the first facilities in the state to get the green light from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission for their respective sportsbook construction projects.

Iowa has not awarded any sports betting licenses yet. The state has 19 casinos eligible for sportsbooks.

Regulations being drafted

In addition to approving brick-and-stick sportsbook plans, as well as business-to-business partnerships in the space, the Commission is working on finalizing the rules for the industry.

The statutory framework is in place, thanks to the legislature passing the bill earlier this year, but officials still need to flesh out the finer details.

According to a report from Siouxland News, the gaming commission has crafted sports wagering regulations that are expected to be finalized and adopted in late July.

A hearing on the draft regulations is slated for July 11, the report said.

Per reporting from the Sioux City Journal, the Commission is planning to post the draft regulations to its website by July 1. Stay tuned to USBets.com or SportsHandle.com for coverage of the regulations.

Once the regulations are in place, expect Iowa regulators to move relatively swiftly on licensing.

Online/mobile betting in the pipeline

In addition to brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, Iowa legalized online/mobile wagering as well. Those platforms are not close to launching. A reasonable timeline for Iowa to kick off internet gambling would be in the second half of 2020, in time for the next NFL season. Earlier is definitely possible, but don’t expect Iowa to have online/mobile books open this upcoming football season.

Under Iowa law, online gamblers must sign up in person at a casino until Jan. 1, 2021. That throws some cold water on launching online/mobile as soon as possible in 2020.

Iowa casinos will pay 7.5% effective tax rate on both retail and online/mobile sports betting revenue. There is no “official league data” mandate in the state.

The state is eyeing a sports betting market that could take $4 billion in annual wagers.

In addition to Iowa, both Indiana and New York are planning to kick off b&m sports wagering this fall.

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