Many of the riverboat casinos in Iowa have transitioned onto dry land. Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs is the exception.
This impressive boat measures 272-by-98 feet, with 538,500 square feet of gaming space.
There is a lot more to this complex than gambling. In addition to the casino and sportsbook, you’ll find bars, restaurants and entertainment.
On this page, we cover all you need to get the best from a visit to Ameristar Council Bluffs. We include details on the new retail sportsbook, casino games and slots, plus the online gambling options licensed by this casino.
We also discuss its loyalty rewards and promotions, along with the history of Ameristar in Iowa. Lastly, we examine the legal landscape affecting casinos in the Hawkeye State.
Retail sportsbooks recently opened in casinos across Iowa.
At Ameristar, the sportsbook is situated in the appropriately named Sports Bar. You’ll enjoy an extensive choice of food, a full bar and the ability to bet at six wagering terminals. There are 50 high-definition TVs to keep track of all the action, even on the busiest game days.
Opening hours are:
The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.
You can currently bet on all the major sports, such as pro league and college action. Sports options include:
Prop bets are not yet available at Ameristar’s sportsbook. However, you can wager straight bets (moneyline, totals, spreads), parlays and futures on all the major sports.
Ameristar is partners with theScore and Kambi to help bring online sports betting to Iowans.
This partnership is part of an emerging trend. Casinos are working with big media organizations with a wide-reaching audience, to get their online sportsbooks off to a solid start. For instance, theScore is a major digital brand based in Canada.
Its online sportsbook will allow bets from anywhere within Iowa’s state lines via mobile devices or desktop computers. Based on what this brand is doing in New Jersey, bettors can expect some big bonuses and promotions, too.
Iowa players should anticipate a no-deposit bonus, plus a matched bonus that will be based on their first deposit or risk-free first bet.
Mobile betting at Ameristar will include some innovative new ideas, which include live betting (or in-play betting). Here, you will be able to wager on games as they are happening. Placing bets as the action unfolds via your mobile device is the perfect way to add excitement to any game.
Ameristar offers the latest slots and table games to its patrons. There are 39 tables, which include classic casino games and some newer specialty games.
Here is what you’ll find:
There’s even an excellent selection of slots, offering an impressive 1,525 gaming machines. These include video poker terminals, reel slots and the latest video slots.
Massive progressive jackpots are also available, such as IGT’s Wheel of Fortune. Plenty of classic games are available, with Buffalo, Cleopatra and Quick Hits among the newest titles themed on movies, TV and music.
Ameristar also offer an app for slots. These are free-to-play, for-entertainment-only games, as real-money online casino gaming is not yet legal in Iowa.
The operator of Ameristar is Penn National Gaming, which runs casinos and racetracks all across the country. These venues offer the myChoice loyalty program.
As a program member, you earn points by playing slots or table games. You can then redeem these points for free play, hotel stays and other benefits.
In addition to this successful loyalty scheme, you’ll find plenty of additional promotions that change throughout the year, including standard seasonal and holiday promos.
Among these are free-play offers, enhanced points on certain days, tournaments (slots), and offers that combine casino gaming and restaurant deals.
The bar and restaurant at the Ameristar sportsbook are only one among a list of choices. This casino offers the usual mix of casual dining with upscale options.
There is a buffet with seven dining stations, which include Italian, Asian and American options. Also, there is a champagne brunch with crab legs, and prime rib dinner specials.
For myChoice VIP members, they have access to Club 38.
For steak and seafood, you can go to the Riva restaurant. If you want a more casual meal, you can go to Double Down Dogs and Bella’s Bakery.
There is a small hotel at this site that offers 135 rooms, plus meeting facilities and a wedding venue.
This riverboat casino is located on the Missouri River. While it is an Iowa venue, the location is directly opposite of Omaha.
When this boat first opened for business in 1996, there was a requirement that riverboat casinos must be mobile. This meant regular two-hour cruises up and down the river in the summer season. These cruises were able to stop in 2007 when the laws changed, making the Ameristar into a stationary boat casino. Some other casinos physically moved onto dry land, though the Ameristar remains on the water today.
Initially owned by Ameristar Entertainment, this casino has changed hands twice in recent years.
First, it was bought by the Pinnacle Entertainment company in 2013. Penn National Gaming then bought Pinnacle in 2018, adding this venue to its growing portfolio of casinos and sportsbooks across the country.
Iowa’s local referendums allowed casinos in 1990.
Those early casinos included many of the riverboats that still operate today. Tribal and racetrack casinos were also established during this time, bringing the total to 18 licensed casino venues in Iowa.
Things changed once again in 2007 when the requirement for riverboat casinos to be moving was eliminated. This shift allowed many riverboat casinos to turn boats into hotel and entertainment complexes.
Then 2019 saw the most significant change to Iowa gambling laws. A new bill allowing for sports betting was passed, which included provisions for both retail and online sportsbooks.
From Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature in May, it only took a few months for the first sportsbooks to open. This law allows each of the licensed casinos to operate up to two branded sportsbooks.
Bettors must be at least 21 years or older to gamble on sports or casino games in Iowa. Online sportsbooks will only take bets if you are physically within state lines.
Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs was an early mover in opening its retail sportsbook.
With 50 screens, you’ll never miss any of the action while you bet on pro and college sports. We anticipate the online sportsbook, in partnership with theScore, to open shortly.
Being located near the state line, Ameristar draws players from Iowa and Nebraska. It offers plenty of table games, slots and entertainment options.
Make sure you sign up for the myChoice loyalty program, so you don’t miss out on the regular comps and one-off promotional offers.