iowa

Sports betting is very much growing in the state of Iowa. Even though the inconvenience of having to sign up in person is still in place, there are a lot more operators popping up that really make it worth your while.

If you live in Iowa or a surrounding state, you can bet on the mobile apps and the online sportsbooks for five operators now. If you live outside of Iowa, geolocation tracking has to place you in the state in order to give you access to your account, but more options make it easier to shop around for the best lines and add a lot of incentive for those that haven’t signed up yet.

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Hard Rock is the latest go to online in Iowa through its partnership with its own Hard Rock Sioux City property. Hard Rock is the fifth online app to gain licensing in Iowa and looks the same as its app in New Jersey through it’s Hard Rock AC property.

The other mobile operators in Iowa are William Hill US, Elite as part of the Bet.Works platform, PointsBet, which joined the Iowa market in November, and then the Q Casino Sportsbook.

The addition of Hard Rock is a big one because Iowa is one of the few states that does not have either DraftKings or FanDuel up and running. Another trusted name in the gambling business to go alongside William Hill and the three relative newcomers to the sports betting market will give Iowans another option with a brand name and a site that doesn’t have any hiccups or problems.

PointsBet going live in Iowa was also a big deal. The Australia-based company was only live in New Jersey, but now has a presence in the Midwest in the Iowa Betting market with one of the most unique sportsbook setups in the business. PointsBetting is exclusive to PointsBet and is that system in which you can make a bet and then win a multiple of your bet amount based on how far away from the line the game lands. For example, if you bet over 200 in an NBA game and 215 points are scored, you win 15 times your bet amount. The risk, obviously, is that if the game falls 190, you would lose 10 times your bet amount. It really does test your confidence to say the least.

Bet.Works hired former Mirage sportsbook director Jay Rood to help oversee the different processes on a state-by-state basis, but the Elite Casinos are still newer to the sports betting space and have had some growing pains with customers picking off bad lines. The same is very much true of the Q Sportsbook, which operates independently.

The big names in Iowa have really dominated the handle. Mobile handle in Iowa accounts for nearly 57% of the total amount of bets taken, so another app, and a big name at that, should enhance that percentage quite a bit as the months go along. PointsBet got off to a slow start in November in its infancy and also with the fact that it isn’t a big name for bettors. Furthermore, the PointsBet Sportsbook is located at Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington, which is nowhere near any of Iowa’s big cities. Having to sign up in person has really capped the growth potential for sports betting in Iowa.

Hard Rock’s retail sportsbook location in Sioux Falls is in the extreme northwestern part of the state and also not near many big cities, so it seems unlikely that Hard Rock would draw a large part of the handle right away. Perhaps interested bettors from Omaha, Nebraska or Sioux Falls, South Dakota will bring in some dollars from outside of the state, but native Iowans that don’t live near Sioux City are unlikely to get too involved.

That means that William Hill, Q, and Elite will continue to dominate the space in Iowa, but it is possible that a relaxed restriction on signing up in person could come in 2020. Right now, the law states that users have to sign up in person up until January 1, 2021. When that restriction ends, we could see a mad dash for companies like DraftKings and FanDuel to get involved. Right now, their market research likely suggests that it isn’t worth the investment. The law in Iowa says that each retail sportsbook can have two “skins” under its license, which would open up the mobile-only crowd like DK and FD.

For now, while growth is slow, it is still moving in the right direction with apps like Hard Rock and PointsBet now online in Iowa.