Customers in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson can still plan get-togethers to watch a simulcast and bet on horse racing at the local Iowa casinos.
For awhile in 2022, future weekends watching the Kentucky Derby or a routine schedule of races seemed in doubt. Here’s why:
- The three Wild Rose casinos had an agreement with the Iowa Greyhound Association (IGA) to carry race simulcasts from around the country. But, now that dog racing is over at Iowa Greyhound Park, the IGA’s license to offer pari-mutuel betting at partner casinos will expire.
- Nothing in existing laws allowed another non-profit to pick up the slack. So, gaming industry leaders asked for a change to the HF 2497 gambling bill. Lawmakers and the governor signed off on the request along with a lot of additional Iowa casino changes.
- So, all casinos in Iowa have another pari-mutuel betting option starting Jan. 1, 2023. The Iowa Horsemens Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) can now take over.
Iowa HBPA Executive Director, Jon Moss, told PlayIA:
“It’s just a different experience. Some people really like to go to the racetrack, be around other people and have that communal relationship — talking to people and kind of working through whatever they’re handicapping and betting. That’s what the on-track, on-site simulcasting experience offers. Some people want to sit at home or they want to watch on TVG. Then they can do that through their app. Personally, I actually go to the races and I’ll use my TVG app and make a wager that way myself.”
Five Iowa casinos offer pari-mutuel bets
The Iowa HBPA is in the process of forming a non-profit to help casinos make the switch. In the meantime, the greyhound group will keep its license active for the Wild Rose casinos to get through 2022.
The state has two additional on-site betting options as well.
- Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino has its own license.
- So does Horseshoe Council Bluffs Casino, which has a license because it hosted live races in the past.
Moss said he’s heard “rumblings” that more Iowa casinos might be interested in simulcasting as well. Support for the betting option is more solid at Wild Rose for the moment.
Brian Ohorilko of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission confirms the interest.
“At this point, I’m not aware of any other new casino entities that are interested in offering the pari-mutuel wagering. I have been notified that the entities that currently have it — the Wild Rose entities — still would like to continue to do that.”
The triple crown races produced three different winners in 2022. Racetracks around the country offer a full schedule over the summer, however.
Historic Keeneland hosts the 2022 Breeder’s Cup. The year-end championship takes place Nov. 4-5.