Iowa Online Sports Betting

Sports betting in the Hawkeye State is finally legal!

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed bill SF 617 into law, making Iowa the 11th US state to legalize sports betting.

Since then, multiple casinos have rolled out both mobile and retail sportsbooks. Read on for all the latest on Iowa’s foray into the sports betting world.

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Launching Iowa sports betting

Iowa got the green light for legal sports betting in July 2019. The first bets were placed before the start of the 2019 NFL season.

Here is a list of the casinos that launched sports betting in August 2019:

  • Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack & Hotel
  • Lakeside Hotel & Casino
  • Isle of Capri Waterloo
  • Isle Capri Bettendorf
  • Rhythm City Casino Resort
  • Riverside Casino & Golf 
  • Ameristar Council Bluffs
  • Catfish Bend Casino

Brian Ohrilko, the administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, anticipated that the William Hill casinos (Prairie, Lakeside, Waterloo, and Bettendorf) and the casinos using bet.works (Riverside, Rhythm and Grand Falls) would be ready.

His instincts proved accurate. William Hill and bet.works-powered Elite Sportsbook hit the open market with mobile sports betting.

How legal sports betting works in Iowa

With around 80% of modern sports betting taking place online, thanks to FanDuel and DraftKings, Iowa has done well to ensure that its law allows online betting from the get-go.

However, the kicker to this law is that bettors must register at casinos in-person for mobile accounts until January 2021.

Since none of Iowa’s neighboring states host legal sports betting yet, we expect bettors to travel to the state and take advantage of Iowa’s law. With the advancements in sports betting technology and real-time data, betting operators can offer many types of bets. Thanks to the Supreme Court overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), sports betting is now a lot more fun.

Instead of only betting on the outcome of a match or event, sports bettors can now make in-game wagers on about anything that may happen during a game.

The range of sports available is also broader. Now customers can bet on their favorite NFLMLB or NHL games, and even can bet on international soccer or tennis matches.

What about Iowa mobile sports betting?

Sports betting apps will be heavily present right from the start. They are the most popular way to wager online; however, they may be slow to catch on in the Hawkeye State.

The new law means that bettors can’t use mobile apps until they have registered an account at a land-based casino. The requirement to physically visit a casino before being allowed to place bets at an online sportsbook may be a barrier.

The requirement will lapse in January 2021, after which mobile sports betting should take off.

Signing up for a mobile account is easy either online or in-person. In both cases, customers have to prove their identity and that they are 21 years or older.

Players then can deposit funds at the casino cage after they sign up, or via a range of online and third party methods. Typically, these include:

  • ACH e-check
  • Casino-branded prepaid card
  • Casino cage
  • Credit or debit cards
  • Neteller
  • Online bank transfer
  • PayNearMe
  • PayPal

Withdrawals are equally simple; however, not all deposit methods are also withdrawal methods. Typically, a check withdrawal will arrive within a few days.

Once started, it takes only minutes to get used to the software and start placing bets. Until a bettor gets familiar with the app, it’s best to keep wagers small.

One innovation that sports bettors will enjoy is the welcome offer the mobile operators provide. Most operators will compete for customers by offering a cash bonus equal to the first deposit or a free bet of some type.

Customer acquisition is expensive, so these offers are essential recruiting tools. Don’t miss taking advantage.

Available Sportsbook Apps in Iowa

In a very short period of time, Iowans have found themselves blessed with a plethora of choices for mobile sportsbooks. There are several apps available throughout the state.

However, it’s important to remember that each sportsbook app requires an initial registration and deposit at their land-based partner casinos. So, bear in mind the amount of travel you’ll have to undertake in order to get started.

DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKings Sportsbook launched its app in Iowa in February 2020. The sportsbook and DFS giant brings a wealth of experience and innovation to the Hawkeye State, and visitors will not be disappointed with the offering.

There are actually three locations where Iowa players can start their journey with DraftKings. The three Wild Rose Casinos – in Clinton, Emmetsburg, and Jefferson – can each get players going with DraftKings accounts.

PointsBet Iowa

PointsBet was one of the first apps to launch in the Hawkeye State. The Australian company may not be a familiar brand name to most Iowans, but that’s soon to change.

One of the main reasons that PointsBet is on its way to becoming a household name is the company’s signature product, the Points Bet, allows players to leverage their winnings on spread bets drastically by paying them based upon their distance from the published spread. Players who want to give PointsBet a try need to visit the Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington in order to get started.

William Hill

William Hill is one of the largest and most widespread of any sportsbook operator in the world. So, it’s not a surprise that the company in blue and gold has extended its reach into the Hawkeye State.

Fittingly, William Hill may have the most opportunities to register and begin play of any of Iowa’s sportsbook apps. The company has deals with Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Isle of Capri in Bettendorf, Isle of Capri in Waterloo, and Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola.

Most Iowans are probably going to find that there is a William Hill location in the vicinity of wherever they are.

Elite Sportsbook

Elite is one of the lesser-known operations to open its doors for play in Iowa. However, don’t let the company’s under-the-radar status throw you off – there are plenty of reasons to give Elite a try.

Iowans who want to try a sportsbook app with a more personal touch can register at one of two locations. Elite is taking in new customers at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort in Riverside and the Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport.

Hard Rock

Hard Rock Sioux City entered the sportsbook app fraternity in Iowa rather quietly. For such a well-known brand, the casino has kept a lower profile than one might imagine.

However, you can’t go wrong with a company that has sportsbooks in several states these days. Iowans can register at the location in Sioux City in order to get going there.

Q Sportsbook

Q Sportsbook is another one of the smaller operations in Iowa and, indeed, the entire country. Like Elite and Hard Rock, its app functions as an outgrowth of the land-based operation.

So, most Iowa residents who would be familiar with Q Casino probably live in and around Dubuque. Since they’ll have to visit the location to register, that’s probably for the best.

Iowa sportsbook bonuses, free bet offers

Iowa sports bettors who are looking to place a bet for the first time should check and see if a casino offers a welcome bonus or free bet.

Players sure and read the fine print on special promotions; there can be specific terms and conditions attached to every promo.

There are four broad categories of offers:

  • No Deposit, Free Bet Bonuses: Most-states offer new players a free bet, sometimes only for signing up. The value can range between $10-$25 on certain moneylines and can vary by state.
  • Sportsbook Deposit Bonuses: To encourage players to deposit money into their sportsbook account, some will offer to match the deposit 100%.
  • Promotions: These are specific to each casino and can include parlay insurance, overtime insurance, enhanced lines and boosts for big parlays.
  • Loyalty Rewards: Some sportsbooks may offer regular perks to encourage players to keep coming back.

Each type offers a new way to make the sports betting experience more enjoyable. Check out our complete breakdown of each bonus, odds and free bet offers here.

Live betting is a game-changer

Currently, in-game betting, aka in-play betting, is one of the most popular forms of sports betting.

Available bets range from who will score next to what the points spread will be at the end of each quarter.

There are two types of in-game betting: updated bets and proposition bets.

If a bettor places a wager on his or her favorite team to win. Now gameplay has gone against him or her, and it looks like the bettor’s wager may lose.

With in-game betting, the player can now hedge the bet by placing a wager on the opposition and reduce the chances of losing the entire bet.

Conversely, when it looks like the team is winning, the bettor can double-down on the wager.

Of course, the odds change as the game progresses.

Who is allowed to operate sportsbooks in Iowa?

The law allows existing gambling licensees to apply for a sports betting license. Currently, the IRGC licenses 19 state casinos. Here is an incomplete list of the current casinos and their corresponding sports betting partners:

CasinoCityOperator
Ameristar Council BluffsCouncil BluffsPenn National/Kambi
Casino Queen MarquetteMarquette
Catfish Bend CasinoBurlingtonPointsBet
Diamond Jo CasinoDubuqueFanDuel
Diamond Jo Casino - WorthNorthwoodFanDuel
Grand Falls CasinoLarchwoodBetfred
Hard Rock Sioux CitySioux CityHard Rock
Harrah's Council BluffsCouncil BluffsCaesars
Horseshoe Council BluffsCouncil Bluffs
Isle of CapriBettendorfWilliam Hill
Isle of CapriWaterlooWilliam Hill
Lakeside Hotel & CasinoOsceola
Prairie MeadowsAltoonaWilliam Hill
Q CasinoDubuque
Rhythm City Casino ResortDavenportElite/bet.works
Riverside Casino & Golf ResortRiverside
Wild Rose Casino & ResortClintonDraftKings
Wild Rose Casino & ResortEmmetsburgDraftKings
Wild Rose Casino & ResortJeffersonDraftKings

Which casinos will apply for licenses?

The ultra-low license fee of $75,000 will prove no barrier to entry for the existing casinos. The issue then boils down to whether the casinos want to invest in the infrastructure necessary to offer sports betting.

Iowa has a population of fewer than 3.2 million. Yes, out-of-state visitors will add to the market size, but there is no escaping that Iowa will be a relatively small sports betting market.

Not all of the licensed casinos will want the expense and management overhead of adding sports betting. On the other hand, the market is strongly competitive, and casinos may decide that this is an opportunity that they can’t afford to miss.

Setting up sports betting means partnering with a technology provider, either a pure platform provider such as Scientific Games, or an online brand like BetStars or 888.

Each casino can launch two “skins,” which means they can partner with two operators. Or a casino can launch one “skin” with its brand and the other with the partner’s brand.

The brands and technology partners that Iowa bettors can expect to see entering the market include:

  • 888
  • BetStars
  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • GAN
  • IGT
  • Kambi
  • Kindred
  • MGM
  • NYX
  • Partypoker
  • PokerStars
  • SBTech
  • Scientific Games
  • William Hill
  • PointsBet

DraftKings and FanDuel are well-known daily fantasy sports providers, but some of the others are foreign brands only visible in the New Jersey market at the moment.

That said, DraftKings, along with Rush Street Interactive brand BetRivers, partnered with Wild Rose Entertainment as an avenue toward Iowa sports betting.

Also getting in near the ground floor, UK-based Betfred debuted its sportsbook at Grand Falls Casino in February 2020.

There are major corporate partnerships already in place with many US casino groups, such as MGM’s deal with GVCCaesars and Eldorado have just announced a merger that will see the two companies join forces for online sports betting around the US. They are partnered with William Hill, The Stars Group, 888 and Scientific Games.

Some Iowa casinos have already set up new partnerships themselves. The Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino has a partnership with William Hill and Catfish Bend Casino struck a deal with PointsBet.

Available bets at Iowa sportsbooks

There are plenty of ways to bet on the games:

  • Parlay Bets: A parlay bet ties together several individual wagers. In a typical parlay, bettors pick the winner of several games taking place on a specific day. It only pays out if all the legs of the wager win. Because the odds will be against the bettor, it means it could result in a large sum of cash. However, if the bettor loses, he or she still had a lot of fun.
  • Moneyline Bets: Moneyline bets are the purest form of a wager. The player simply bets on which team will win.
  • Total Bets: With a total bet, the winner of the game doesn’t matter. The bet is on the total score of the game. The bookmaker quotes two prices, one for the over and one for the under. Bettors win if they predict the score correctly to be over or under the quoted number.
  • Spread Bets: In a spread bet, bettors wager that the gap between one team’s score and their opponents will be more than a quoted number. The favorite is always quoted as a positive number and the underdog as a negative number.
  • Round Robin: If a bettor wants to lay several parlay bets at the same time, a round robin is a way to do it. A bettor makes a list of, e.g., eight teams and select maybe three of them to make each parlay bet. The round robin then creates a list of all the combinations of parlays for those three teams. It’s tough to calculate all the odds manually, but modern technology means the website or mobile app will do all the work.
  • Teaser Bets: A teaser bet is like a parlay, but the individual elements are restricted to totals bets or spread bets. The trick is that the bettor can adjust the points spread or over/under a certain number of points. This reduces the odds, making the bet easier to win, but the payoff is lower.
  • Futures Bets: If bettors want to wager on who will win the next Super Bowl, he or she will want to choose a futures bet. But again, technology means that bettors can bet on many different things. Futures bets can be on who will win a league, or even on how many points a player might score over a season. Each operator offers different varieties.

Iowa horse racing

Iowa offers 19 casinos to its residents and visitors. The largest of those, in terms of square footage and overall revenue, is Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona. Prairie Meadows offers patrons horse racing1,900 slot machines, a poker room and 13 varieties of table games, all spread over nearly 90,000 square feet of casino space. Customers can wager on live-action races or simulcast.

OFF-TRACK BETTING IN IOWA

Additionally, customers can wager on horse racing via the off-track betting (OTB) locations in Iowa.

  • Altoona: Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack & Hotel
  • Burlington: Catfish Bend Casino
  • Clinton: Mississippi Belle II Riverboat
  • Council Bluffs: Harrah’s Casino, Ameristar Casino
  • Dubuque: Iowa Greyhound Park, Diamond Jo Casino
  • Emmetsburg: Wild Rose Casino & Resorts
  • Marquette: Casino Queen
  • Osceola: Lakeside Hotel & Casino

The Iowa sports betting law

Iowa passed SF 617 just over a year after the Supreme Court overturned PASPA. PASPA made state-regulated sports betting illegal except for states that were already allowing it.

New Jersey brought the case that resulted in the Supreme Court decision, so it is only natural that it was the first state to host sports betting.

Iowa has moved relatively quickly to get its legislation on the books. An existing casino industry and only minor opposition from tribal gaming interests helped.

The law consists mainly of amendments to the existing Gambling Games Regulation. Key features include:

  • 6.75% tax rate on sports betting revenue.
  • A low $75,000 license fee with a $10,000 renewal fee.
  • Mobile betting allowed but restricted to intrastate means only.
  • Up to two skins allowed per licensee.
  • In-person registration for mobile apps until Jan. 1, 2021.
  • No prop bets allowed on in-state college teams, but betting on other college games is permitted.
  • The regulator is the existing Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC).

The American Gaming Association (AGA) thinks Iowa has produced excellent sports betting law.

AGA executive Sara Slane said:

“The state of Iowa has set its legal sports betting market up for success with a reasonable tax rate, mobile wagering, strong consumer protections and provisions that put responsible gaming at the forefront. Through the leadership of champions like Iowa Gaming Association President and CEO Wes Ehrecke, Iowans will now have a safe alternative to the illegal market that has thrived in the Hawkeye State and across the country …”

Iowa Sports Betting FAQ

WHAT IF I'M CURRENTLY USING AN OFFSHORE ACCOUNT?

Stop and switch to a regulated legal sportsbook.

If you are using an offshore book, you have no legal protection whatsoever. In the regulated sports betting system in Iowa, you can be sure that your money is safe and the games you are playing are not rigged. There are responsible gaming measures to ensure you are gambling wisely.

If that’s not enough reasons to convince you, open a sports betting account and find out how much fun in-game betting provides. The offshore books don’t offer much in the way of live betting because they don’t have access to the real-time data that is used to set the odds.

WILL ONLINE POKER AND ONLINE CASINO GAMES BE AVAILABLE?

Sadly, the new law only authorizes online sports betting. The Iowa Lottery has plans to allow online lottery ticket purchases, but online poker and casino games have to wait for more legislation.

WHEN CAN IOWANS START PLACING BETS?

Right now. Iowa sports betting is in full swing. If customers prefer online sports betting, they must first register accounts in-person at a casino.

DO I HAVE TO LIVE IN IOWA TO BET ONLINE?

No, you can set up an account online even if you are only visiting the state. However, you can only bet when you are inside Iowa’s state borders.

WHAT KIND OF BETS CAN I WAGER?

Basically any and all types of bets that are available in legal sports betting states such as New Jersey will most likely be available in Iowa.

Some of the most common bets are:

  • Futures
  • Moneyline
  • Over/Under
  • Parlays

WHAT SPORTS CAN I BET ON IN IOWA?

Customers can bet on anything sports-specific, including college sports and professional sports. This list includes a few of the sports offerings:

  • Football
  • College football
  • Boxing
  • Hockey
  • Baseball
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • College basketball
  • Golf
  • Mixed martial arts
  • Soccer
  • Cycling
  • Rugby

HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO LEGALLY BET IN IOWA?

You must be 21 years or older with a valid ID.

Wrapping up: Other forms of gaming in Iowa

SOCIAL CASINO OPTIONS

Iowa has many land-based casino options, but only four offer social casino sites. The two Caesars properties, Harrah’s Council Bluffs and Horseshoe Council Bluffs, provide several links to both branded and partnered websites, most notably Slotomania. Caesars also promotes its real-money sites to Iowans, even though they would have to travel to New Jersey or Nevada to play.

The other two properties to offer a social casino option are the two Isle of Capri casinos in Bettendorf and Waterloo. Both provide a link for Lady Luck Casino, which is a smaller, independently owned site based out of Nevada and serves various properties around the country.

Other than that, the typical social casino options are available on Facebook or mobile devices. Double DownBig Fish, and Zynga all offer their services to Iowa residents and visitors.

It would be remiss not to mention MyVegas as well, which is the MGM Resorts site. MyVegas is notable because of its system for awarding real, redeemable comps to players. Although Iowans would have to travel to redeem these comps, real rewards can still be obtained without spending a dime.

STATE CASINO OPERATOR HISTORY

Iowa’s foray into legal gambling began with the criminal prosecution of a Catholic priest.

Back in 1971, the tiny Iowa town of North Buena Vista held its annual picnic on behalf of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. This event, a 40-year tradition, typically saw the use of a wheel of fortune, bingo, a dice table and some other small card games. The church also served beer for attendees, whose numbers swelled the town’s population from a meager 150 residents to more than 8,000 people each year.

However, the state attorney general decided to crack down, and by the end of the day, state agents confiscated all the gambling equipment. Father Carl Ruhland was charged with running a gambling house. Two weeks later, he entered a guilty plea and paid the $100 fine. What happened after that was astounding.

Iowans were enraged by the idea of a church picnic being raided and the town priest standing trial. The public outcry was so intense that the Iowa Legislature passed a resolution to repeal the state’s ban on gambling in 1972, a mere year later. Unsurprisingly, the resolution was affirmed in the general election vote that year and, thus, began Iowa’s journey to its respectable gambling array.

If the largest casino in the state tops out at 90,000 square feet, (Prairie Meadows), then residents won’t be getting the superlatives of the megaresorts in Las VegasOklahomaNew Jersey or Connecticut. However, Prairie Meadows alone is reporting year-to-date revenues nearing $180 million, and two other properties, Ameristar II and Horseshoe Bluffs Run, are also north of $150 million for the year. For a state with more than 3 million residents, Iowans sure like to gamble — just in a laid-back, humble manner.

And to think, it all began with a Catholic priest getting in trouble with the law.