Iowa Online Sports Betting

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

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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 sports betting landscape, from choosing your sportsbook and signing up, to funding your account and making a bet.

Sports Betting in Iowa: The Basics

Age

Similar to brick-and-mortar casinos throughout the state, you must be at least 21 years old to engage in Iowa sports betting. Further, until January 1, 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 mobile sports betting apps within the state have geo-location software to ensure that this requirement is met.

Other Sports Betting Restrictions

Anyone who has been banned from a casino, including those who have self-excluded, are not eligible to take part in Iowa sports betting. 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. Legislation requires that until January 1, 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

It’s possible to deposit and withdraw in-person, at the cage of any casino that is partnered with a sportsbook. Since you have to visit the casino in-person to register, funding the account while there is a great option. Mobile methods will vary based on the operator. Options like PayPal, PayNearMe, Bank Transfer, and ACH will be relied upon to fund Iowa sports betting accounts.

Of note, some sportsbooks may require that you use a prepaid casino card to fund an Iowa mobile sports betting account, which in itself must be funded separately, but using similar methods.

Iowa Online Sportsbooks

Interested in Iowa mobile betting? There are currently six online sportsbooks operating within the state of Iowa, some of which have more than one retail partner. Keep in mind that until January 1, 2021, Iowa bettors must visit the retail sportsbook in-person to set up an online account. Use of a mobile app will be permitted after registration is completed at the casino.

Online SportsbookCasino PartnerLaunchMobile
William HillIsle Bettendorf, Isle Waterloo, Lakeside, Prairie MeadowsAug. 15, 2019Yes
Elite SportsbookGrand Falls, Rhythm City, RiversideAug. 27, 2019Yes
Q SportsbookQ CasinoNov. 12, 2019Yes
PointsBetCatfish BendNov. 26, 2019Yes
Hard RockHard Rock Sioux CityDec. 16, 2019Yes
DraftKings SportsbookWild Rose Clinton, Emmetsburg, JeffersonFeb. 19, 2020Yes
BetfredGrand Falls Casino (skin)Jul. 7, 2020Yes

William Hill

  • Launch: August 15, 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 mobile betting app for Android was available at launch on August 15, 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 Iowa 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 27, 2019
  • Retail Partner: Riverside Casino Golf Resort, Grand Falls Casino, Rhythm City Casino Resort
  • Tech Partner: Bet.Works

Elite Sportsbook officially launched with online wagering in Iowa on August 27, 2019, just in time for football season. It offers a full complement of betting options, plus some interesting features 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 12, 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 sports wagering with Q is conducted through a mobile sports betting 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 sports betting market.

PointsBet

  • Launch: November 26, 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 sports betting 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.

Read more about the PointsBet Iowa Online Sportsbook here.

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Hard Rock

  • Launch: December 16, 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.

DraftKings Sportsbook

  • Launch: February 19, 2020
  • Retail Partner: Wild Rose Clinton, Emmetsburg, and Jefferson
  • Tech Partner: DraftKings

DraftKings online sportsbook officially launched in Iowa on February 19, 2020. After in-person registration has been completed at one of DraftKings’ three brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in the state, the Iowa mobile sports betting app will be at your disposal. Wager on both professional and collegiate sports from the comfort of home, including in-game bets.

DraftKings is one of the largest names in online gaming today. Having risen to the top of the Daily Fantasy Sports world, its premium sportsbooks have also been a hit in other states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey. They make it easy to transition back and forth from DFS to sportsbook too, which is a major plus.

Create your account here.

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More to Come

More online sportsbooks are expected to enter and compete for a share of the sports betting market soon. DFS titan FanDuel partnered with Diamond Jo properties in Iowa and has already launched retail sportsbooks. Online operations will follow. Similarly, Caesars has opened sportsbooks at both their Harrah’s Council Bluffs, and Horseshoe Council Bluffs properties 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.

Brick-and-Mortar Iowa 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 Iowa sportsbooks operating within the state. The Casino Queen Marquette was initially the lone hold out in Iowa, though it too acquired a license in late 2019. It has yet to launch a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, however.

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, 2019FanDuelSep. 3, 2020
Diamond Jo WorthFanDuel SportsbookAug. 29, 2019FanDuelSep. 3, 2020
Hard Rock Sioux CityHard Rock SportsbookSep. 20, 2019Hard RockDec. 16, 2019
Wild Rose ClintonDraftKings SportsbookOct. 3, 2019DraftKingsFeb. 19, 2020
Wild Rose EmmetsburgDraftKings SportsbookOct. 3, 2019DraftKingsFeb. 19, 2020
Wild Rose JeffersonDraftKings SportsbookOct. 3, 2019DraftKingsFeb. 19, 2020
Casino Queen MarquetteTBDTBDTBDTBD

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 legal 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 wagering. 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 Iowa sports betting. 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 22, 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 Iowa 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 legal sports betting is regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Iowa sports betting officially began on August 15, 2019, both in-person and through a mobile app.

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 Iowa gaming were illegal. 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.

The Des Moines based Iowa Gaming Association was established in 1999 to help support and grow the state’s gaming interests. Iowa remains the only state that actually requires licensed casinos to contribute revenue towards charities and community projects.

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 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, sports betting is legal under Iowa law! That includes in-person, and mobile betting. Legal sports betting went live on Aug. 15, 2019. Iowa sports betting is regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

Where can I place bets in Iowa?

There are currently 18 different retail sportsbooks in Iowa that are accepting bets. In addition there are six online sportsbooks that allow sports betting through a mobile app. Iowa sports betting has a presence throughout the state, from Council Bluffs, to Des Moines, to Dubuque.

What types of bets will I be able to place?

All major sports betting 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 legal 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 1, 2020.

Is online poker legal in Iowa?

Not yet. While SF617 opened the door for both Iowa sports betting and DFS, it did not cover poker. Additional legislation will be required before online poker is made available in the Hawkeye State. Sports wagering and DFS legislation is a big step forward for Iowa gaming though, and may help the state’s pursuit of poker in the future.

Can I sign up for a mobile sports betting account online?

No you can’t. All prospective mobile sports bettors will need to visit the casino in-person to confirm their identity and establish their account. However, sports wagering in Iowa gets a lot easier after January 1, 2021, when this requirement expires. You’ll be able to register from mobile apps soon enough.

What resources are available to those that may have a gambling problem?

Each individual Iowa sports betting operation, in addition to the Iowa Gaming Association, has a dedicated section for responsible gaming. Assistance for problem gamblers is available in the form of both treatment programs, and self-exclusion.

(Top Photo: Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

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