In-Person Iowa Sports Betting Launches On Tribal Land

Written By Jarrett Huff on February 24, 2023
In-Person Sports Betting In Iowa Now Live

In-person sports betting in Iowa is coming for the first time – as long as it takes place on some tribal land in the northwestern part of the state.

Blackbird Bend Casino introduced retail sports betting at its location Saturday, allowing guests to bet on sporting events at their leisure. The casino is owned by the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska.

Patrons of the casino can place no-pressure bets at self-serve kiosks. This addition to the casino’s offerings is a major one, without being too much trouble for the operators, something CEO Brad Appelton said was a focus.

According to a report by, Appleton believes gambling at these kiosks will make those unfamiliar with this style of betting feel more comfortable trying it out, saying:

“Come in, do it without the pressures of anybody watching you. If you don’t know how to play save wager (at a) sportsbook if you’re not familiar with it and stuff, you know, this gives you an opportunity to explore it.”

At this time the casino is unable to launch an app for mobile sports betting in Iowa due to the current state laws. Until there is a time when mobile sports betting becomes legal, sports gambling will have to remain on tribal lands.

About Blackbird Bend Casino

Blackbird Bend Casino is located in Onawa, Iowa. It’s open from 8 a.m. through 2 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and 24 hours Friday and Saturday. The 6,800-square-foot casino gets its name from the famous Omaha Tribe chief, Blackbird.

The casino features around 400 slot machines, video poker, and an assortment of table games and electronic table games.

The casino also features a restaurant, the Upstream, which offers menu dining and a variety of buffets. The event center at the casino hosts concerts and other shows, and space is available for rent for meetings, trade shows and other events.

Opening in 1992 under the name CasinOmaha, Blackbird Bend Casino was one of the first casinos in the state. It’s been in operation for over 30 years. In 2009 the casino closed for remodeling to make the struggling location more viable, reopening in 2010.

In 2011 the Missouri River flooded the casino, forcing the suspension of operations for major repairs. The casino finally re-opened in 2013 under its current name.

The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska also owns and operates Lucky 77 Casino in Walthill, Nebraska. Due to Nebraska legalizing sports betting in 2021, in-person sports betting is not currently available at the casino. But the plan is to ideally have it available at some point soon.

Photo by Graphic by PlayIA
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Jarrett Huff

Jarrett Huff is a former sports editor at Northern Star Media from Wonder Lake, Illinois. Friends and family will tell you he's an NBA history nerd with a diehard passion for the Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs.

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