Barstool Sportsbook Iowa Could Be On Its Way Soon

Posted By Russ Mitchell on August 26, 2021

Barstool Sportsbook is coming to Iowa. It’s just a matter of time.

The tip-off came Friday, when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) released its agenda for Thursday’s meeting at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort near Iowa City. Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs wanted the commission to consider an online sports betting agreement with Penn Sports Interactive, LLC.

To connect the dots:

  • Penn National has a lease for the Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs.
  • Another branch of the company, Penn Interactive, operates Barstool’s digital platform, including Barstool Sportsbook.
  • Sports betting operators need contracts with Iowa casinos to go live with sportsbook apps in Iowa.

So, it made sense that a Penn-leased casino would work with a Penn-owned sportsbook app to bring Barstool Sportsbook betting to Iowa. Penn National Gaming acquired theScore and its sportsbook on Aug. 5, however. So, Thursday’s agenda item could have just been a revised agreement to reflect Penn’s new relationship with theScore.

Ameristar will indeed keep theScore Bet. IRGC Administrator Brian Ohorilko said Penn National plans to add Barstool Sportsbook as a side-by-side skin.

That’s not a problem for the Council Bluffs casino. Iowa’s 19 casinos can carry up to three individually-branded sportsbooks or “skins.”

“Ameristar did confirm (Thursday) that this will be a Barstool Sports brand. They were still a little unsure as to the launch date.”

Thursday’s commission vote was a necessary step for sportsbooks to go live in Iowa. The votes are usually a formality. That’s especially true if other states already approved the sportsbook. Barstool is already live in:

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

When is Barstool Sportsbook Iowa coming?

Now that the IRGC approved the contract, Barstool Sportsbook could go live in “about two to three months” from the state’s perspective. Ohorilko said:

“A lot of it will depend on Penn Gaming and what their priorities are. Every now and then, we run into a situation where we get a larger company that operates in many states. There may be another state that they want to launch in first.”

Ohorilko previously talked about process for established sportsbooks to go live in Iowa. The IRGC can grant temporary licenses as the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation vets key stakeholders. Even with the shortcut, there’s still a modest regulatory delay:

“They will work with our staff to complete various controls. Those controls really deal with everything within our rules. That would range from: What tools do they have for problem gambling? Are they connected to the self-exclusion database and are they equipped to do that? Are the players’ accounts safe and secure? Is the technology certified by an independent test lab? Does the geolocation work properly? Those are some examples of things our folks look at.”

Ameristar already uses some branding

Ameristar already has some access to Barstool resources in Council Bluffs through their shared relationship under the Penn umbrella. But it’s Ameristar, not Barstool, that had the retail sports betting license. The Council Bluff casino maintained compliance. They shouldered the risk and kept the profits for sports bets made at the casino.

Until Barstool Sportsbook goes live in Iowa, customers still have to be at the casino for a “Barstool” wager. Thursday’s meeting just gave the IRGC a chance to consider a Barstool online (advance deposit wagering) license. That’s when Barstool itself received a closer compliance review.

Iowa code calls for an initial $45,000 licensing fee each time a sportsbook wants to operate in the state.

Bettors don’t have to visit a brick-and-mortar site like Ameristar Council Bluffs Casino to sign up for their favorite sports betting apps. Remote registration became legal in Iowa at the start of 2021.

Iowa currently has 12 online sportsbooks. Ohorilko said two more, Unibet Sportsbook and Fubo Sportsbook, are “very close” and could be just “a few days” from going live.

Photo by Nynke Van Holten | Dreamstime.com
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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