Iowa Sports Betting

Iowa Sportsbooks and Online Sports Betting Apps Are Coming

The first legal sportsbooks in Iowa are poised to go live on Thursday, August 15.

Read on for more information about Iowa sportsbooks and online sports betting apps.

When can I start betting on sports in Iowa?

The law stipulates that sports betting may be offered on or after July 4, 2019, but the launch date ended up being Aug. 15.

Since last year, Iowa’s casinos have begun signing deals with technology partners and online brands in anticipation of legislation passing. 

Iowa sportsbooks will be live before Sept. 5, the first day of the NFL season. On that day, the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers for the NFL Kickoff Game.

Which casinos have sportsbooks and sports betting apps?

At launch, on Aug. 15, here are the casinos that will have sportsbooks:

  • Prairie Meadows
  • Lakeside
  • Isle Waterloo
  • Isle Bettendorf
  • Rhythm City
  • Riverside
  • Ameristar Council Bluffs
  • Catfish Bend

Of those, only Catfish Bend will not have an app live at launch. Users wanting to use the apps associated with those casinos will have to register in person.

Which casinos can have legal Iowa sports betting?

Iowa’s new Sports Wagering Act authorizes any of its existing casino licensees to apply for a license.

There are 19 licensed casinos eligible, but not all of them will choose to offer sports betting. Iowa has 3.2 million people.

If all 19 casinos offer sports betting the market will be very crowded indeed. Each licensee is allowed to offer sports betting under two brands—two “skins.” Potentially there could be 38 sports betting brands in the market.

While this might seem unlikely, the license fee is only $45,000. That might encourage smaller casinos to give it a go, although they will need a technology partner to get sports betting up and running.

The casinos eligible to apply for licenses are:

CasinoCityCounty
Ameristar Council BluffsCouncil BluffsPottawattamie
Casino Queen MarquetteMarquetteClayton
Catfish BendBurlingtonDes Moines
Diamond Jo CasinoDubuqueDubuque
Diamond Jo Casino – WorthNorthwoodWorth
Grand Falls CasinoLarchwoodLyon
Hard Rock Sioux CitySioux CityWoodbury
Harrah's Council BluffsCouncil BluffsPottawattamie
Horseshoe Council BluffsCouncil BluffsPottawattamie
Isle of CapriBettendorfScott
Isle of CapriWaterlooBlack Hawk
Lakeside Hotel & CasinoOsceolaClarke
Prairie MeadowsAltoonaPolk
Q CasinoDubuqueDubuque
Rhythm City Casino ResortDavenportScott
Riverside Casino & Golf ResortRiversideWashington
Wild Rose Casino and ResortClintonClinton
Wild Rose Casino and ResortEmmetsburgPalo Alto
Wild Rose Casino and ResortJeffersonGreene

Many of these casinos are operated by the biggest names in US gambling. MGM Resorts owns the Ameristar, and Caesars owns Harrah’s and the Horseshoe. 

The two Isle of Capri casinos on the list are owned by Eldorado Resorts, which has just agreed to merge with Caesars.

All of these are likely to offer sports betting. Follow PlayIA.com to keep up with the latest announcements of sports betting launches.

Iowa sports betting, at a glance

After Governor Kim Reynolds signed bill SF617 into law on May 13, 2019, sports betting became legal in Iowa.

State gambling taxes mean that a proportion of revenue will go to the state treasury with percentages to the local county endowment fund and to “educational, civic, public, charitable, patriotic, or religious uses.”

Over and above the financial benefits, Iowans will be able to gamble legally on their favorite sports. Instead of millions of dollars flowing to offshore illegal accounts, the cash will stay local. 

Instead of being at the mercy of unscrupulous internet rogues, Iowa’s sports bettors will be playing under the umbrella of a fully regulated system. People at risk of gambling problems will be protected and have access to help.

What companies will be offering sports betting?

Back in 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This shut down the possibility of state-regulated sports betting in all states where it wasn’t already legal.

One unintended consequence was that sports betting technology shifted offshore. The big global sports betting operators are almost entirely European companies.

Even in Nevada, most sports betting is provided by William Hill, a British company founded in 1934. 

In the absence of US expertise, the casinos offering sports betting must partner with these companies. This will introduce a lot of new brands to the US market.

The brands and technology platforms active in the US market so far include:

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

All of these will be vying for a place in the market.

Already William Hill has a partnership deal with the Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino. The Catfish Bend Casino signed a deal with Australian operator PointsBet in April.

What other forms of online gambling will be available?

Aficionados of online poker and casino games are not catered for in the new law. It might seem bizarre, but the politicians decided that sports betting should be legal and online poker should remain banned.

Hopefully this will change when the advantages of legalizing sports betting become apparent. Without casino games and poker some customers will carry on playing at illegal sites which cater to all their gambling needs.

The Iowa Lottery doesn’t yet offer online ticket sales, but these are expected in the near future.

What’s the minimum age to bet?

Nobody under 21 can place a sports bet in Iowa. 

The new regulations demand that operators confirm the age of all their customers before allowing them to place bets or withdraw any money.

Can I make bets online or on my mobile device?

You certainly can.

In New Jersey over 80 percent of all legal sports bets are placed online or on mobile devices. Iowa has made the sensible decision to allow mobile sports betting, but it will be introduced with a safeguard.

Until Jan. 1, 2021, all online sports betting accounts must be opened in-person. This means you must go to the casino that operates the online app you want to use. 

As casinos can have two online skins each, you will need to check which casino is backing the brand where you want to open an account. If you want more than one account, you will have to go to the casino backing the second brand.

This provision ensures that identity and age verification checks are carried out. In reality, the states with legal online gaming have had few problems with their sophisticated technical solutions to age and identity verification, so there is no real need for in-person registration.

Nevertheless Iowa law is what it is and you must comply. The provision will substantially reduce the market for mobile sports betting, but this will change when the provision expires.

From January 2021, you will be able to open an account online. At this point, online sports betting will rapidly expand.

Note that if you find you can open an online account before Jan 2021, you have made the mistake of accessing an illegal offshore site.

All Iowa’s legal gambling sites will carry a notification and logo saying they are legally authorized by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC).

How do I make a deposit on a sportsbook app?

Since you have to go to a casino to open an account it is probably easiest to make your first deposit at the casino cage.

Thereafter future deposits can be made using a variety of methods. Popular methods available in other jurisdictions include:

  • In person at the cashier’s cage of the casino offering the online app
  • Credit/debit cards
  • Online bank transfer
  • Casino prepaid cards
  • PayPal
  • NETELLER 
  • ACH eCheck
  • PayNearMe

How do I withdraw my winnings from online sports betting?

Not all deposit methods allow for online withdrawals. The sports betting operator will list those deposit methods that can also be used for withdrawals.

Withdrawals at the casino cage are instant, those by check take only a few days.

Offshore sports betting sites are not legally allowed to use the US banking system so withdrawals can take weeks. Fast payment processing is one of the major advantages of placing you bets in the legal system.

Are the introductory sportsbook offers real?

The launch of sports betting is bound to be accompanied by an advertising blitz. There will be offers galore as operators new to the market attempt to stake their claim to a large market share.

Casinos and sports betting operators are eager to attract existing sports bettors away from the offshore sites. They are also eager to attract sports fans with no previous sports betting experience.

Both marketing tasks are not easy. As a result, sports bettors will be faced with seemingly impossible offers. The reason the offers are real is that operators work on the basis of the lifetime value of a customer.

Customers who find a sports betting site that suits them tend to stay for a long time. It’s a lot easier to offer several hundred dollars to acquire a new customer than it is to attract customers away from sports betting sites where they already feel comfortable.

Typically an initial offer will include a matching bonus. This is where the operator offers to pay an amount equal to your first deposit into your account.

There is a catch here. Normally you have to wager at least the amount of the bonus before receiving the free money. Before choosing your account it makes sense to check whether you have to wager one times the amount of your deposit or higher multiples before you win the bonus.

Bonuses can be as high as $1,000. That’s a lot of free cash, make sure the wagering requirements work for your level of sports betting or you may never earn it.

The other common incentive is free bets. Here the operator offers literally a free bet. Typically you get from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars which you can use to bet as soon as you open your account. If you win the winnings are yours. If you lose no money is taken from your account.

There are plenty of variations on a theme, so always check the terms and conditions before you make your first deposit.

What’s the benefit of loyalty programs at sportsbooks?

Most, but not all online sports betting operators offer loyalty or VIP schemes.

You receive points in the VIP club for each bet you make. Often the scheme is tiered so that the value of points increases as you move up the tiers.

Points can be exchanged in an online store for benefits including cash, free bets and merchandise. One advantage of the law insisting that only licensed casinos can offer sports betting is that loyalty club benefits often include free meals or drinks at the casino itself.

Your online play can produce enough points to pay for a fun night out with your partner at the casino.

Don’t overlook the benefits of loyalty programts. They are funded as part of an operator’s marketing expenses. You should consider their benefits at the same time as you consider which sign-up bonus to choose.

A low initial bonus can be offset by a valuable loyalty program, and vice versa.

Can I bet when I’m traveling outside of Iowa?

State-regulated online sports betting is only legal inside the borders of the state where it is regulated. One step outside Iowa and your online app will no longer accept bets. The geolocation technology is that good.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be a resident in Iowa to open an account. Out-of-state tourists will not only come to visit the casinos, they will also place online bets.

None of Iowa’s neighboring states has legal sports betting yet, so sports betting tourism is likely to generate substantial extra revenues.

Who is allowed to bet in Iowa’s legal gambling system?

Legally, anybody inside the state borders and over the age of 21 is eligible to make sports bets. There are a number of exclusions.

Anyone who has put themselves on a gambling self-exclusion list can’t bet, nor can casino or sports betting operator employees bet on their own systems.

Players and athletes and other team employees can’t bet on sports contests when their own teams are participating.

Will the odds be the same as in Las Vegas?

Most of the time, the answer will be yes. Some of the time they will be better and some of the time they will be worse.

Iowa isn’t Vegas. The market has different characteristics, so sports betting odds will sometimes vary.

The good news is that Iowa license fees and taxes are low. This means that the operators can afford to give the best odds. When taxes are high it becomes difficult for sports betting operators to offer competitive odds.

If the odds aren’t at least as good as the offshore sites, it becomes much harder to attract players to the legal offer.

Understanding sports betting odds

Odds are the price a bookmaker sets for you to make a particular bet. They can change very rapidly based on many factors. 

Essentially the bookmaker works out the probability of a betting event happening and sets a price that is slightly in its favor. The difference between the true probability and the odds customers are quoted is known as the vig or vigorish.

In the US odds are normally quoted using Moneyline odds also known as American odds.

On the display of the odds either in the casino or on your mobile app, you will see a set of odds quoted for each team.

In front of the number there is a plus or minus sign. In American odds, all figures are quoted relative to a base figure of 100.

If there is a plus sign then you will win the quoted amount for every $100 that you bet. If you see odds quoted on your team as +200, then you will win $200 for every $100 that you bet. For different bet sizes you just calculate the amounts proportionally.

If there’s a minus sign then you’re betting on the favorite. And in this case, you win $100 if you bet the amount after the minus sign.

Odds of -200 mean you have to bet $200 to win $100. On top of the amount you win you receive your original stake back.

Most apps give you the option of seeing odds in the usual US way, or as fractional odds such as 1/2 or decimal odds where 1/2 is quoted as 1.5.

What games can I bet on?

One great thing about so many overseas companies entering the market as casino partners is that they have developed odds for all sorts of sports from all around the world.

The top six betting sports in the US are:

  • NFL football
  • NBA basketball
  • NHL hockey
  • Soccer
  • MLB baseball
  • Boxing/MMA contests

Betting on the NFL is more popular than any other sports betting. However, modern sports betting apps offer betting on golf, tennis, volleyball and even Olympic sports.

Each site has its own sports, but the list is often as long as your arm! 

The important thing to remember is that all the sports where licensed operators quote odds have their own sports integrity protections and reliable data feeds for odds calculation and results verification.

A lot of money now goes into ensuring that sports where betting takes place are as fair as possible. Penalties for match-fixing are severe.

For reasons of game integrity, Iowa does not allow prop bets involving in-state college teams. Other college sports bets are fine.

What are the different bet types?

There are a plethora of different ways to bet on sports. The most popular include:

Moneyline

Moneyline wagers are ideal for beginners as they are the simplest form of sports betting. A moneyline bet is no more than a bet on which team or player will win a game.

Betting on the favorite will win less money than betting on the underdog, but obviously the odds of the underdog winning are lower.

If the odds are lower, you are less likely to win your bet.

Futures

Futures are bets on an event where the outcome won’t be known until a future date.

They are often bets on events that won’t be known until the end of a season  such as a bet on who will win the league.

You can use futures bets to wager on which teams might make the Super Bowl, or which players will make the finals of the Wimbledon tennis championships.

Spreads

Spread bets are bets on whether a team will score more or less than a line determined by the bookmaker.

One team is given points over the line and the other team has the same number of points below the line. 

You win a spread bet when a team “covers the spread”, that is it wins by the number of points above the line, or if you are betting on their opponents, when they lose by less than the number of points under the line.

Over-Under

An over-under bet is also called a totals bet. These are bets where you predict whether the combined score of both teams in a game will be more or less than a specific number.

There are variations, but the basic over-under bet is on the final score of the game. If you bet the over and the score is higher than the quoted number you win. If you bet the under and the score is lower you win.

Parlays

Parlay bets are some of the most popular ways to bet on sports. They allow you to wager a small amount of money with the chance of getting a very big payout.

Parlay bets combine a series of bets where you have to win every element of the parlay or you lose the whole bet.

Typically you might bet on the winners of a series of matches all taking place on the same day. If you guess all the winners correctly you will take home a big win.

The fun arises when you have correctly picked several legs of the parlay and are only one or two matches away from winning life-changing money from a small wager.

Of course, the high potential payouts also mean there is only a small chance of winning, but you get a lot of fun (and tension) on the way.

Round robins

A Round Robin ties several parlay bets together. You choose a number of teams and tie a few of them together in a parlay.

For example, an 8-line bet includes 8 teams and if you tie 3 together, then your round robin includes wagers on every combination of parlays between every three teams, a total of 56 separate parlay bets.

In-game betting

In-game betting is something only possible with reliable real-time game data. The big sports betting operators have this at hand so can quote odds that change rapidly.

In-game bets are made after a match has started. You don’t have to pick the winner before the game starts, you can wait and see how the teams perform before placing your bet.

Of course, the bookmaker is studying the form too, so the odds change as the game progresses. If you have bet on one team to win and the play is going against them, then you can place an in-game bet to protect your losses.

Other in-game bets available might be on the score at the end of a quarter or which player will score next.

These bets make watching games a lot more exciting and have become enormously popular wherever they are legal.

What is cashing out a bet early?

One great new feature of modern sports betting is closely related to in-game betting. Many operators now allow you to cash out a bet early whether you look like winning or losing.

If a game starts and your team is playing below par, you can cash out your bet before the end of the match. You won’t get all your money back, but you’ll get a proportion based on the probability of your bet winning when you request the cashout.

On the other hand, you can lock in your winnings if your team is ahead. If you are worried about a final quarter comeback by your opponents, can you pocket most of your winnings early.

I see there are new gambling taxes, do I have to pay them?

Iowa levies a 6.75 percent gambling tax on sports betting. This is paid by the operators and not by you the sports bettor.

I’m currently betting at an offshore site. Should I switch?

There are many good reasons to stop playing at an illegal offshore sports betting site:

  • In the regulated market, your money is safe. There are protections against fraud and legal recourse if anything goes wrong.
  • If you win you know you will get your winnings, this can’t be guaranteed when you bet offshore.
  • Legal sites aren’t run by terrorists or organized crime. You don’t know who owns an offshore site or where your money is going.
  • Legal sites monitor your betting for indications of problem gambling. If they see anything to give concern they will email you and point you in the direction of help.

After all what’s the point? If you get better service and legal protection at a state-regulated site that offers excellent odds and better betting option why bother playing illegally?

What is responsible gaming?

Responsible gaming is a term that covers the measures used to reduce the risks of problem gambling.

In the regulated market this means the regulator directs operators to offer measures such as deposit limits, exclusion periods and local professional help.

Research is showing that well regulated legal online gambling reduces problem gambling. 

Who is the regulator if I have a problem?

The great advantage of legal gaming is that there’s a regulator ready willing and powerful enough to help if you have any problems.

In Iowa the regulator is:

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission
DMACC Capitol Center
1300 Des Moines Street, Suite 100
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 515-281-7352
E-mail: irgc@iowa.gov

How did sports betting become legal in Iowa?

New Jersey brought a case before the Supreme Court that challenged PASPA. The court agreed that PASPA’s ban on sports betting infringed states rights under the tenth amendment.

The ruling meant that states could establish their own regulated sports betting if they chose to do so.

In April 2019, the Iowa Senate passed bill SF617 by 31 to 18 with bipartisan support. Four days later the House signaled its agreement with a vote of 67-31.

When the Governor signed the bill on May 13, 2019, that was it.

Now all that remains is for the operators and casinos to get their licenses, get the technology set up and begin.