Iowa Sportsbooks Could Be Live In Time For College Football

Written By Derek Helling on August 1, 2019

The Hawkeye State will soon join the fray of states with legal sports betting. Iowa residents will be able to take advantage of Iowa sports betting at new Iowa casino sportsbooks.

Most of the state’s casinos will offer sports betting once their new betting areas are ready. People in most parts of the state will be close to one when all are up and running.

Iowa sportsbooks partner up

Several Iowa cities are set to become home to new land-based sportsbooks, including:

  • Altoona
  • Bettendorf
  • Burlington
  • Larchwood
  • Riverside
  • Sioux City
  • Waterloo

Instead of building their own sportsbook operations from scratch, most of the casinos in these cities have partnered with experienced operators, such as:

  • PointsBet
  • Betfred
  • William Hill

The comprehensive list of physical sportsbooks and their operators includes:

  • Catfish Bend Casino – PointsBet
  • Elite Casino Resorts – Betfred
  • Grand Falls Casino – Betfred
  • Hard Rock Casino
  • Isle Casino Bettendorf – William Hill
  • Isle Casino Waterloo – William Hill
  • Prairie Meadows Casino and Racetrack – William Hill

Though the state has 19 casinos, these are the only facilities that have announced plans for sportsbooks to date.

Illinois is the only one of Iowa’s neighboring states that have legalized sports betting. That means the launch of these sportsbooks offers more incentive for people from:

  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin

How soon those trips can be planned depends on how quickly the operators can get up and running.

Timeline for the opening of Iowa sportsbooks

Many of the deals between casinos and sportsbook operators were struck before the state actually legalized sports betting in Iowa. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission gave the casinos a further head start by approving many plans for sportsbooks prior to Gov. Kim Reynolds signing the new law as well.

That meant as soon as Reynolds signed the new law into place, casinos like Hard Rock Sioux City started construction on their additions and renovations. Other facilities aren’t far behind.

Amenities patrons can expect at the sportsbooks include “sports bar” aesthetics with multiple televisions. Several betting windows are planned at the facilities as well as screens dedicated to “tickers” displaying live odds updates.

The hope for all the physical sportsbooks is to be up and running sometime in August. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has a meeting scheduled for July 30 to approve final plans and regulations.

While there are no professional teams from any of the major four professional North American sports leagues in Iowa, football and men’s basketball programs from the Big 10 and Big 12 call Iowa home.

The law allows betting on college sports with the exception of proposition bets, so being open to accepting wagers on the coming college football season will be important for all parties. The University of Iowa and Iowa State University both begin their 2019 seasons on Aug. 31.

People who live in the central, northwest and southeast parts of the state will be able to easily access these venues. People in the southwest and northeast parts of the state aren’t left out in the cold, however.

Iowa online sports betting coming to a phone near you

Betfred, PointsBet and William Hill have already announced plans to operate mobile sports betting applications in Iowa in conjunction with their land-based partners. The law allows mobile betting on the same scale as land-based options.

As far as online-only operators go, that’s uncharted territory for Iowans to this point. The law allows for sportsbook operators without a land-based component, although it gives a head start to operators with a physical presence.

What about DraftKings and FanDuel?

It’s possible that DraftKings and FanDuel could partner with one of the other Iowa casinos yet to announce sportsbook plans. The law allows each casino two online skins.

That would get the popular online betting apps up and running in the state along with their competitors. There is another possibility for the two online sports gaming giants, however.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel could be waiting until a tenet of the law requiring mobile bettors to first register in person expires. That facet of the law sunsets on New Year’s Day 2021.

While waiting until 2021 would give Betfred, PointsBet and William Hill a head start on the Iowa mobile betting landscape, the upside to holding out is that the online operators wouldn’t have to share their revenues with a casino partner.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel have partnered with casinos in other states to operate physical sportsbooks, so it won’t be a surprise if either company does the same in Iowa.

As the college football season is just over a month away, all the Iowa operators are not only racing to be first to market but beat the season’s kickoff as well. So far, it looks good that the announced Iowa casino sportsbooks will be ready for the action.


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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. 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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