No, a Hawkeye is not bird, but it is safe to say that legislators in the state of Iowa had eyes like a hawk when it came to legalized sports betting. Policy makers saw the financial impact that could come from allowing wagering at the state’s 19 casinos. Plans were in motion before the Supreme Court decision, but the pace quickened with the opinion that officially put PASPA to bed in the United States.
All of the sportsbooks in Iowa are governed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and it is not a surprise that the state’s casinos moved so quickly. The licensing process was nowhere near as prohibitive in Iowa as it has been in other states. The cost for licensing was only $75,000 with an annual $10,000 renewal fee. The tax rate is relatively low at 6.75%, so the operators didn’t have to incur substantial start-up costs.
The law also had supporting language for mobile betting. Up until 2021, those that want to download and set up an account with a sports betting app must sign-up in person at the casino. By the time that restriction is lifted, most Iowans that want to bet on sports will already be set up, but it will make signing up much more convenient for residents of adjacent states.
Almost one year to the day after that landmark decision, Governor Kim Reynolds signed the law that would allow legalized sports betting in the state of Iowa. Iowa actually became the 11th state to allow betting on sports, but the Hawkeye State wasted no time making it available in brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and via the sports betting apps.
Ironically, Independence Day in 2019 was the first day that sports betting was allowed per SF617, the bill that cleared the way for legal wagering. None of the state’s casinos were ready to go, however, until August 15. On that day, Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Lakeside Hotel & Casino in Osceola, Isle of Capri in Waterloo, Isle of Capri in Bettendorf, Rhythm City in Davenport, Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, Ameristar Council Bluffs in Council Bluffs, and Catfish Bend in Burlington started accepting legal wagers.
At time of writing, all but one of the Iowa Casinos had sports betting or had agreements with operators to partner with. Many of the same operators that are present in a lot of other states are also setting up shop in Iowa at this point in time. With a limited number of casinos, some of the operators will be shut out, but many of the industry’s big names are partnered with the brick-and-mortar locations and will provide mobile and technological support.
Here are the sports betting partners and the casinos through which they have their licensing:
Diamond Jo Worth
Diamond Jo Dubuque
Isle Casino Waterloo
Isle Casino Bettendorf
Harrah’s Council Bluffs
Horseshoe Council Bluffs
DraftKings/Rush Street Interactive
Wild Rose Clinton
Wild Rose Emmetsburg
Wild Rose Jefferson
The Stars Group
Isle Casino Waterloo
Isle Casino Bettendorf
Penn National Gaming
Ameristar Council Bluffs
You’ll notice that some casinos are listed twice. That is because the law in Iowa allows for two partnerships, also known as “skins”, for each casino. The two Isle of Capri properties and Grand Falls both have multiple partnerships. Penn National and DraftKings also have additional partnerships to go along with those listed above.
The Q Sportsbook in Dubuque is the only one that currently flies solo with its own arrangement kept in-house. The only casino at time of writing to not apply for a betting license is Casino Queen in Marquette.
Prairie Meadows also has a thoroughbred racetrack, which is also governed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Iowa Greyhound Park does not have sports betting at the present, but is right down the street from Q Sportsbook and Casino.
As sports betting continues to grow in Iowa, online casinos and poker could be coming as well, but for now, the only thing permitted outside of the brick-and-mortar casinos is sports betting. Once again, you have to visit the casino in person in order to get set up for an app, but then you can bet from the comforts of home. That restriction will be lifted on January 1, 2021, but who wants to wait that long?
Those that live outside of Iowa and in neighboring states like Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin, or those that want to drive from North Dakota or Kansas, can get signed up for the apps in-person, but can only place bets when physically inside the state borders. To reiterate, geolocation tracking prevents those outside of the state from betting, but if you live outside of the state, you can simply commute across the border and then bet as if you lived in Iowa.
Iowa may not have the population of some of the states with legalized sports betting, like New York, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey, but business is already booming and will only continue to grow. Download and check out some of the apps and if you live in Iowa or in a nearby state, head to your closest casino, set up an account, and start betting today!