1-2-3-4, Sportsbooks Line Up At Iowa’s Door

Posted By Russ Mitchell on June 8, 2021

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) approved a major casino upgrade and commissioned a mandatory study during its meeting last week. More significantly, four sports betting operators took steps toward an Iowa launch, according to IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko:

“We really had four on the agenda. Three of them were new. The first one was an amended and restated agreement.”

The Iowa sports betting industry continues to grow with the latest operators that were reviewed by the IRGC on Thursday:

  • FuboTV Sportsbook
  • MaximBet Sportsbook
  • Golden Nugget Sportsbook
  • Daily Racing Form Sports 

Which Iowa sportsbook applications were reviewed

1. FuboTV IA

FuboTV purchased Chicago-based Vigtory Sportsbook, so Vigtory’s bid to enter the Iowa market — which dates back to November 2020 — had to be amended.

Ohorilko said:

“It was the same agreement that was in place with Casino Queen Marquette, except for just a few cleanup items that were related to the transaction. Really, the terms did not change.”

2. MaximBet IA

The commission reviewed the Carousel Group partnership with Isle Capri Bettendorf, pending regulatory approval.

Carousel originally planned to enter the market under the SportsBetting.com brand. The company pivoted and may go live in Iowa as MaximBet instead.

3. Golden Nugget IA

Golden Nugget executives previewed Iowa plans during a May 17 earnings call.

The commission on Thursday reviewed Golden Nugget’s application to enter the Iowa market through Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg. The company said it would focus on online casino states ahead states that only offer sportsbooks, so look for a 2022 launch.

4. DRF Sports

Iowa’s latest applicant has deep roots. How can a betting app possibly have a 127-year history?

The IRGC reviewed a Sports Information Group (SIG) contract with Lakeside Casino and Resort in Osceola. That’s the company behind the historic Daily Racing Form (DRF).

DRF considers itself a “dominant daily publication in the horse racing industry since 1894.”

Ohorilko is familiar with their brand:

“Twenty years ago, when I worked in the horse racing industry, horse players would line up waiting for the Daily Racing Form publication with all of the data to arrive. Then, they would take that, go, and use that to make their picks. So, that’s really what what they are known for.”

DRF now applies its subscriber-based tip sheets to the wider sports world as well. Daily Racing Form’s online sportsbook brand goes by “DRF Sports.” Odds and live scores are free through the website, but exclusive stat trends, matchup information and game forecasts require a subscription.

Ohorilko said he’ll get a better feel of the company once he sees the details within its application:

“They have a pretty robust player database. But it is my understanding that they’re of kind of new to the sports wagering market.”

IRGC approves other changes in Osceola

Lakeside Casino and Resort’s changes go beyond the DRF Sports skin, however. The IRGC approved a $2.2 million upgrade for the south-central Iowa casino. The casino plans to convert a gift shop into a coffee shop.

Ohoriko said customers can expect some refreshed restaurant areas as well:

“Coming out of COVID, early on, there was maybe some concern about whether or not facilities would have money to continue to do these types of things. We’re seeing it here at Lakeside, and we’re starting to see it some other places. It really is important and necessary to keep the business up and keep customers wanting to come to these facilities.”

Iowa set to begin mandatory socio-economic study

Iowa Code requires the IRGC to conduct a survey to measure the socio-economic impact of wagering in Iowa. Four companies responded to the commission’s request for proposals.

Ohorilko said:

“The commission will be reviewing those specific proposals in the next five weeks, really, between now and the July commission meeting. And then at that July commission meeting, there will be one or maybe two vendors that will be selected to conduct these studies.”

Ohorilko said the study explores a wide range of factors, including:

  • How does gambling impact the state negatively in terms of creating additional crimes, bankruptcies and divorce rates in communities that have casino gambling?
  • It assesses the quality of jobs created by the gambling industry.
  • It also explores the overall health of the Iowa gaming economy.

The IRGC meets again on July 15 at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Altoona.

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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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