Iowa Online Sports Betting

In May 2019 Governor Kim Reynolds placed her signature on historic bill SF617, officially legalizing online sports betting in Iowa. Sports betting went live on August 15th, 2019 with nine retail locations and four online sites launching on opening day, becoming the first state to do both simultaneously. 

Iowa possesses a strong gambling tradition with more than 20 casinos throughout the state, plus a passion for sports – a great combination for online betting. This page will serve as your walkthrough of the Iowa online sports betting landscape, from choosing your sportsbook and signing up, to funding your account and making a bet.

Start Betting in Iowa: The Basics

Age

Similar to brick-and-mortar casinos throughout the state, you must be at least 21 years old to bet on sports within the state of Iowa. Further, until January 1st, 2021, all prospective online bettors are required to physically visit their B+M sportsbook of choice to set up the corresponding online account and verify their identity.

Location

You can bet on sports in the state of Iowa as long as you are physically located within the state. It is not required that you are a resident, only present within the state’s borders. Online gambling sites and apps within the state have geo-location software to ensure that this requirement is met.

Other Restrictions

Anyone who has been banned from a casino, including those who have self-excluded, are not eligible to bet on sports in the state of Iowa. In addition, coaches, trainers, players, or anyone that works in relation to them are not able to wager on events in which they may be participating.

Creating an Account

The Iowa online sports betting account creation process is currently a bit tricky in Iowa. Legislation requires that until January 1st, 2021, any “advance deposit sports wagering” – essentially any account where you deposit money and use that money to make bets – must be set up in person with a licensee. 

For example, if you want to bet online with Elite Sportsbook, you would need to visit one of the three B+M casino locations that it has partnered with (Riverside, Grand Falls, Rhythm City), and set up your account there. Be sure to bring your driver’s license. A Social Security Number is also required for tax purposes. Starting in 2021 it will be possible to register online.

Deposits / Withdrawals

Similar to the account creation process, deposits and withdrawals are currently a little more difficult in Iowa than in other states. As always, it’s possible to deposit and withdraw in person, at the cage of any retail sportsbook. However, mobile methods will vary based on the operator. Options like PayPal, PayNearMe, Bank Transfer, and ACH will be relied upon in Iowa.

Of note, some sportsbooks may require that you use a prepaid casino card to fund their Iowa online sports betting account, which would be funded separately, but using similar methods.

Iowa Online Sportsbooks

There are currently five online sportsbooks operating within the state of Iowa, some of which have more than one retail partner. Keep in mind that until January 1st, 2021, Iowa bettors must visit the retail sportsbook in person to set up an online account.

William Hill

  • Launch: August 15th, 2019
  • Retail Partner: Isle Casino Bettendorf, Isle Casino Waterloo, Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Lakeside Casino
  • Tech Partner: William Hill

Industry giant William Hill was the first operator to offer online sports betting in the state of Iowa. William Hill’s Android app was available at launch on August 15th, 2019, with the iOS option following just a few days later. William Hill is the retail sportsbook sponsor at four Iowa locations, including Isle Casino Bettendorf, Isle Casino Waterloo, Prairie Meadows, and Lakeside. Before betting online an account must be created in person by visiting any of these casinos.

Founded in 1934, William Hill is one of the biggest companies in online gaming worldwide. It arrived in the US in 2012, first in Nevada, and now offers its first class sportsbook in numerous states.

Elite Sportsbook

  • Launch: August 27th, 2019
  • Retail Partner: Riverside Casino, Grand Falls Casino, Rhythm City Casino
  • Tech Partner: Bet.Works

Elite Sportsbook officially launched with online wagering in Iowa on August 27th, 2019, just in time for football season. It offers a full complement of betting options, plus some interesting options like ‘early cashout’ which allows for wagers to be cashed out at any time before, or during an event at the current betting price.

Elite Casino Resorts is the owner of Elite Sportsbook, and the three Iowa resorts with which the online enterprise is currently partnered: Riverside, Grand Falls, and Rhythm City. The online sportsbook uses the Bet.Works platform to provide customers with an experience that lives up to the “Elite” name.

Bettors need to be members of the Resort Club in order to participate in online betting, and Resort Club registration must be done in person at one of the three aforementioned brick-and-mortar establishments.

Q Sportsbook

  • Launch: November 12th, 2019
  • Retail Partner: Q Casino
  • Tech Partner: IGT

Q Sportsbook received the go-ahead from the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission on November 8th, 2019, and officially opened its doors a few days later on the 12th. All online betting with Q is conducted through a mobile app. It has options for both Android and iOS users. It allows single bets, spreads, parlays, round robins, futures, teasers, and more. Whatever you are keen to bet, Q has a way to do it.

Q Sportsbook is partnered with the Dubuque based Q Casino, which is a city-owned operation. The sportsbook is powered by the popular IGT software platform, one of the most-used in the United States market.

PointsBet

  • Launch: November 26th, 2019
  • Retail Partner: Catfish Bend Casino
  • Tech Partner: PointsBet

Founded in 2017, PointsBet is a rapidly growing player in the online gaming industry. The Australian based company first entered the US market in New Jersey through a partnership with the Meadowlands Racetrack in January ‘19, and has now established a foothold in Iowa with the Catfish Bend Casino.

In addition to traditional sportsbook offerings, PointsBet also offers new ways to play. With PointsBetting your potential winnings or losses from a bet aren’t fixed, and are subject to change until the very end of the event. Simply put, the more you get right, the more you win… and conversely the more you’re wrong, well, the more you stand to lose.

Hard Rock

  • Launch: December 16th, 2019
  • Retail Partner: Hard Rock Sioux City
  • Tech Partner: GiG

Hard Rock first got involved in online gaming in New Jersey in 2018. It launched online operations the same week that the doors opened on the new Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, following a thorough (and pricey) renovation of the old Trump Taj Mahal property.

Hard Rock, in conjunction with its Sioux City location, now operates a user-friendly online sportsbook in Iowa. Place wagers on everything from football and baseball, to rugby and darts. Hard Rock bettors also enjoy live betting, with odds updated on the fly. The Iowa sportsbook utilizes the Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) software platform, and has been approved by the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.

More to Come

More online sportsbooks are expected to enter the market soon. DFS titans FanDuel and DraftKings have both partnered with casinos in Iowa and launched retail sportsbooks. Online operations will follow. Similarly, Caesars has opened sportsbooks at both their Harrah’s and Horseshoe properties within the state and are also expected to expand online.

Other major operators like FoxBet (BetStars), PlayMGM, Bet365, and 888, which have found success in other states, may also look to expand in Iowa.

Iowa Brick-and-Mortar Sportsbooks

Iowa was the first state to launch both online and retail sportsbooks at the same time. For those that prefer betting in person at a casino, there are currently 18 B+M sportsbooks operating within the state. 

CasinoSportsbook NameRetail LaunchOnline PartnerOnline Launch
Isle BettendorfWilliam Hill SportsbookAug. 15, 2019William HillAug. 15, 2019
Isle WaterlooWilliam Hill SportsbookAug. 15, 2019William HillAug. 15, 2019
LakesideWilliam Hill SportsbookAug. 15, 2019William HillAug. 15, 2019
Prairie MeadowsWilliam Hill SportsbookAug. 15, 2019William HillAug. 15, 2019
Grand FallsElite SportsbookAug. 15, 2019Bet.WorksAug. 27, 2019
Rhythm CityElite SportsbookAug. 15, 2019Bet.WorksAug. 27, 2019
RiversideElite SportsbookAug. 15, 2019Bet.WorksAug. 27, 2019
Catfish BendPointsBet SportsbookAug. 15, 2019PointsBetNov. 26, 2019
AmeristarAmeristar SportsbookAug. 15, 2019KambiComing soon
Harrah'sThe BookAug. 23, 2019CaesarsComing soon
HorseshoeThe BookAug. 23, 2019CaesarsComing soon
Q CasinoQ SportsbookAug. 27, 2019Q SportsbookNov. 12, 2019
Diamond JoFanDuel SportsbookAug. 29, 2019FanDuelComing soon
Diamond Jo WorthFanDuel SportsbookAug. 29, 2019FanDuelComing soon
Hard Rock Sioux CityHard Rock SportsbookSep. 20, 2019Hard RockDec. 16, 2019
Wild Rose ClintonDraftKings SportsbookOct. 3, 2019DraftKingsComing soon
Wild Rose EmmetsburgDraftKings SportsbookOct. 3, 2019DraftKingsComing soon
Wild Rose JeffersonDraftKings SportsbookOct. 3, 2019DraftKingsComing soon

Not every sportsbook currently supports online betting, although there are convenient features that have been developed to improve the retail experience. For example, the Ameristar Casino does not currently accept online wagers but it does support a unique “Bring Your Own Device” feature. Bettors can actually view offerings online, build their wager, and then use their phone or tablet to scan the custom QR code for that specific bet. Once the bettor arrives at the sportsbook they can produce the scanned QR code which will automatically create an official slip for their chosen bet.

PASPA

For decades the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was the main barrier standing between Iowa and sports betting. Originally passed in 1992, PASPA essentially prohibited sports betting across the country, with only a few exceptions. As anti-PASPA momentum began to build, Republican Jake Highfill filed House Bill 2448 in February 2018. The bill laid the groundwork for future legislation but lacked necessary details to move things forward. The proposed bill permitted sports betting in all of the state’s casinos and race tracks. 

PASPA was eventually overturned in the US Supreme Court in May 2018, opening the door for states to once again pursue sports betting. However, HB2448 failed to gain traction and died at the end of the 2018 legislative year. New Jersey was the first state to move forward with sports betting, followed closely by other states including Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Iowa Sports Betting Laws

In 2019, Rep. Bobby Kaufman and Sen. Roby Smith introduced SF617 and HF648 that would legalize sports betting in Iowa. SF617 passed the Senate on April 18th, 2019 and was sent to the House. In the House, there was a contentious 90 minute debate and Kauffman was accused of rushing the bill. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and the bill passed the House on April 22nd, 2019 by a vote of 67-31. In February Gov. Reynolds said that sports betting “needs to be regulated.” Reynolds stayed true to her word and signed the bill, officially making it a law.

Under SF617 sports betting licenses may be purchased for a $45,000 fee, and requires an additional $10,000 payment each year for annual renewal. Each license allows for the operation of up to two separate skins. All sports betting is regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Iowa online sports betting officially began on August 15th, 2019.

Iowa’s Betting History

Iowa has a strong gambling community, as made evident by the state’s impressive selection of brick-and-mortar casinos and racinos. However, this hasn’t always been the case. From 1846 – 1972, all forms of gambling were illegal in Iowa. During that time the state constitution contained an article stating “No lottery shall be authorized by this state nor shall the sale of lottery tickets be allowed”. Gambling laws were so strict during this time that even a pinball machine that awarded an extra ball was deemed an illegal gambling device. They had ruled that the term “Lottery” is often used to define a form of gambling, and the general legal term for gambling is “a chance for a prize for a price.”

Representative Lloyd F. Schmeiser was asked in 1972 if bingo for seniors was illegal, and he responded with a resounding “yes”. This interaction got the ball rolling on the lottery ban repeal, which eventually took place later that year. In 1973, the General Assembly began authorizing games of chance, including bingo and raffles by approved organizations.

Fast forward to 1983, horse and dog track racing were authorized in the state at three locations. Tax revenue was designated towards public works and education. In 1985, the Iowa state lottery began, later offering interstate games like MegaMillions and PowerBall in 1991.

The addition to MegaMillions and PowerBall were just a small part of a larger gambling expansion package. Also included was the authorization for two riverboat casinos. In 1994, two more riverboat casinos were added along with three land based casinos. Since then, the number of B+M casinos and racinos within the state has skyrocketed to 19. In addition, there are also four Native American casinos. Offerings like slots, table games, and poker are all popular today within the state.

Iowa has previously taken interest in legalizing and regulating online gambling. Attempts in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 all failed to pass, but it seems inevitable that online casino games will eventually arrive in Iowa as well. Successful Iowa online sports betting may help ease the concerns of legislators, and move them on to the short list of states with legal, regulated online poker and casinos.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Iowa online sports betting legal?

Yes! Legal online and retail sports betting went live in Iowa on August 15th, 2019.

Where can I place bets in Iowa?

There are currently 18 different retail sportsbooks in Iowa that are accepting bets. In addition there are five online sportsbooks that allow mobile betting from anywhere in the state.

What types of bets will I be able to place?

All major bet types are accepted in Iowa, including but not limited to moneyline bets, spread bets, totals (over/under), props and parlays. Notably, Iowa does not permit in-game props for college sports, or individual international sports with participants under the age of 18.

Is Daily Fantasy Sports legal in Iowa?

Yes they are. It’s unusual for states to permit sports betting before DFS, but that’s exactly what happened in Iowa. Would-be participants had to wait until October of 2019 to play Daily Fantasy Sports. Notably, collegiate DFS contests are off limits within the state until May 1st, 2020.

Is online poker legal in Iowa?

Not yet. While SF617 opened the door for both online sports betting and DFS, it did not cover poker. Additional legislation will be required before online poker is made available in the Hawkeye State. 

Will I be able to sign up for a mobile account online?

No you can’t. All prospective bettors will need to visit the casino in person to confirm their identity and establish their account. However, this requirement is temporary, with online registration set to begin on January 1st, 2021. 

(Top Photo: Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)