DraftKings Wants To Bring Esports Betting To Iowa, But Will The IRGC Cooperate?

Posted on April 15, 2020

For gamblers across the Hawkeye State, the time for esports betting might be near. If such markets do open soon, Iowa bettors could have DraftKings to thank.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) has set an electronic meeting for Thursday, April 16, at 8:30 a.m. local time. On the agenda is DraftKings’ request to start offerings wagers on esports.

What we know — and don’t know — about esports betting in Iowa right now

Suffice to say, there’s more we don’t know than what we do know about this topic. Several questions remain unanswered as of Tuesday afternoon:

  • What events and leagues might DraftKings offer action on?
  • How soon will the markets be live if the IRGC approves?
  • Will the IRGC approve the request and if so, will there be any limitations?
  • What level of interest in esports betting is there in Iowa?
  • If the IRGC approves such markets, will other online sportsbooks in the state also start taking esports wagers?

All these questions might be answered on Thursday. There are some conclusions about this request by DraftKings that we can infer based on current knowledge.

For DraftKings, this is an attempt to keep customers engaged in the absence of more popular events. It’s much more expensive to acquire new customers than retain current ones, and doing so requires a constant flow of new events to take bets on.

Normally at this time of year, DraftKings would have MLB and NBA games on top of golf and tennis events to provide that flow. Because those aren’t happening right now, DraftKings is going with whatever the law in Iowa allows.

One of the obvious conclusion there is esports. What we also know is that with a few alterations and exceptions, esports competitions continue amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

For example, the League of Legends LCS Spring 2020 Playoffs are ongoing this week. LOL is the most popular team esports league in the world, and legal online sportsbooks have already taken action on its events in Nevada and New Jersey.

It’s also clear that such wagers would not violate IA law as long as the competitors are legal adults and the competitions have a governing body. Most of the leagues and events that would draw betting interest already fit that definition anyway, so there’s little concern that any operators would take bets that would violate the law.

In Asia and Europe, esports betting is popular because it offers constant action and there are events year-round. While it might take some learning and time for IA bettors to become as familiar with the events, there are helpful resources.

Where to do your research for esports betting online

For those who are completely new to esports, Gamepedia is a tremendous resource. Its wiki on League of Legends, for example, supplies all the information you need to know which teams are the best and how matches play out.

If reading isn’t the best way to absorb information for you, there are some great podcasts and YouTube channels as well. A simple search on the web can yield those results.

Of course, the relevance of this information depends on the IRGC’s approval Thursday. If that occurs, DraftKings and other operators might post wagers for esports soon.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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