Iowa Online Sports Betting and Launch Dates

Legal sports betting and mobile apps in Iowa

August 15th of 2019 saw a new era of legal sports betting begin in Iowa.

Iowa House Bill 617 was signed; licenses were issued, and the first sportsbooks opened – all within 3 months. Each of the brick-and-mortar casinos in Iowa can apply for 2 mobile betting licenses. Big brand names including William Hill, FanDuel and Elite Bet were quick to enter the Hoosier state.

If you can’t make it to a retail sportsbook regularly, you can wager via apps from anywhere within state lines. Mobile betting allows for new betting formats. Live betting sees odds change as the match progresses – allowing you to bet while you enjoy the game.

Online Sports Betting is Live in Iowa

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The table below shows the top ranked Iowa online sports betting sites, along with the best bonus for each one:

  • Points Bet: Risk Free Bets up to $1000: Partners with Catfish Bend. (**Plan to open before the Superbowl)
  • William Hill: Bet $50, Get $50 Bonus: Partners with Isle Bettendorf, Isle Waterloo, Lakeside, Prairie Meadows
  • Elite Sportsbook: No Welcome Bonus. Partners with Rhythm City and Riverside Casino
  • Hard Rock: Powered by Gaming Innovation Group Inc., partners with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City

Registering at mobile sportsbooks in Iowa

Iowa does things differently to other states when it comes to registering sports betting accounts. You’ll need to complete your registration in person at the casino that holds the license for your brand. This rule is in place until the end of 2020.

Most of the registration process can be carried out online after you have downloaded the app (see below). While the exact order and details requested will differ, all the sports betting apps will request the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • E-Mail
  • Date of Birth
  • SSN (last 4 digits)

You’ll also need to accept the terms and conditions, which will include the stipulation that you need to be 21+ to play.

iPhone / iPad betting apps

Apple allows betting apps in their app store. You can either go there directly, searching for your sportsbook brand – or go via their website on your iPhone. You will then be prompted to install the app.

iPhone apps contain the full functionality of the sites. This includes the cashier, account / bonus information and all the betting markets.

Android betting apps

Unlike Apple, Google do not allow any gambling apps in their ‘Play’ store. There are fully functional Android Apps available in Iowa – though you’ll need to go via the brand’s own websites to install them.

Depending on your device and settings, pop-up messages appear. These warn you that you are downloading from an ‘Unknown Source’. As long as you make sure you are at the correct site and that your browsing session is secure, this download will be perfectly safe.

How geo-location technology works

To place a bet, you’ll need to be physically located within IA state lines. The mobile sportsbooks will be very strict on this. Any doubt about your location will stop you placing bets. Any app you download will need to access your phone’s location. If you hit problems (close to state lines), you’ll need to download additional geo-location software.

Using a VPN or proxy server will not allow you to place bets.

Which sports betting apps will be available in Iowa?

#1. PointsBet Sportsbook

PointsBet is fairly new, having launched in NJ during the earlier part of 2019. The sportsbook uses a “points-based” system where you’re betting the over / under.

The PointsBet app is smooth, easy to use and is available for both iPhone and Android. With PointsBet, you can bet on the biggest sports – though their coverage of minor sports and leagues does need to be improved.

#2. William Hill Sportsbook

William Hill were the first mobile sportsbook in Iowa. This brand has the years of experience needed to hit the ground running. They have partnered with 4 Iowa casinos – and registration is available at the retail books at all of them.

You can take advantage of the ‘Bet $50, Get $50’ welcome bonus via the smartphone apps or desktop (browser-based) site. This easy bonus is yours as soon as you bet $50. This can be as a single bet, or multiple smaller ones.

#3. Elite Bet Sportsbook

Elite Sportsbook have partnered with the casinos at Rhythm City and Riverside to offer both retail and online betting. This platform was created by Bet.Works, which is new to sports betting. Unusually, Elite Sportsbook does not currently offer a welcome bonus for new players.

What you will find after exploring their black and gold interface is some of the latest ways to bet. These include live (in-play) betting and cash out (early redemption) betting.

#4. Hard Rock Sportsbook

The Hard Rock mobile sportsbook launched in December, 2019 with registration available through its retail sportsbook partner at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City.

The app, available for both Android and iOS, is powered by Gaming Innovation Group Inc.

#5. FanDuel and DraftKings DFS Sites

Both DraftKings and FanDuel are entering Iowa with two products. They are licensed to offer both full sports betting (retail is open already, mobile will follow soon). The second product is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites, which run real-money picks contests. It is the DFS products which are available now.

How do deposits and withdrawals work?

Before you can place a bet, you’ll need to deposit money. A visit to the retail casino / sportsbook for your brand, starting off with cash at the cage, is a popular method.

If you need to top up your account, that casino visit will not be necessary. A range of payment options can be used safely, including cards, bank transfers and electronic wallets. The details of using each method are covered below.

  • Credit or Debit cards: This is the quickest and easiest deposit method. Most cards are Visa or MasterCard branded these days, and these are almost always accepted. Some banks do still restrict gambling deposits, though on the whole both debit and credit cards can be used. The process for depositing will be the same as for any online purchase. For people comfortable paying by card online, this is a popular way to fund sports betting accounts.
  • ACH Bank Transfers: You might know this deposit method better as ‘eChecks’. Electronic checks have replaced paper ones, although they work in the same way. You can get pre-verified to speed up the clearing process (which can take up to 3 days otherwise). Some books will let you bet with eCheck deposits, holding on to withdrawals until the original funds clear.
  • Electronic Wallets: Even if you have never heard the term e-wallet or ‘electronic wallet’ before, you have likely heard of PayPal. This is the best-known example of a 3rd party online wallet. These provide a secure step between your bank and the betting sites. Other examples include Skrill and Neteller. You do get a secure 3rd party account for both deposits withdrawals. In return, these services charge small fees.
  • Prepaid Cards: Many sportsbook brands including DraftKings and FanDuel have created prepaid debit cards. These work with the ‘Discover’ network. You will need to apply for one separately from the sportsbook registration. You then load your card via your own bank cards – before you can use it for both deposits and withdrawals. You can spend funds on the card too, anywhere that Discover is accepted.
  • Alternative Bank Transfer: For the ultimate in secure transactions, bank wires can be sent to most Iowa sportsbooks. This is a slower deposit method, taking 3+ days (and coming with a fee from the sending bank). Bill Pay also works at some online sportsbooks. This allows you to fund your account as if you were paying a utility bill. Money orders / cashier’s checks complete the options for legacy banking deposits. You can order a check by mail for your withdrawal if no other methods work.
  • Cash Deposits: You can deposit at the casino cage or retail sportsbook into your mobile betting account. If you can’t get to the casino, then PayNearMe is a useful alternative. This lets you fund your account at your local convenience store. You print a barcode from your account and take this (along with the cash) to your nearest 7-Eleven to deposit.

What sports teams do Iowa residents bet on?

There are no pro sports teams in the NFL, NMA, MHL or MLB in Iowa. While there are some minor league teams, plus soccer and hockey sides. As with many states, you won’t be able to bet on college teams from IA – to do this you’d need to travel to another state.

Iowans have a big sporting tradition, with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears popular choices for football fans. Add to this the Sox, Bulls and Bears – and neighboring IL has a lot to offer. You’ll also find plenty of betting options in Minnesota, with the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and Wild competing for your attention.

How sports betting in Iowa works?

Sports fans in Iowa now have a lot of different ways to bet. You’ll see the main wagers which cover multiple sports explained below. In addition to these, there are many bets which are sport specific. Many prop bets fall into that category.

Mobile betting also allows for a brand-new format – live betting.

Most popular types of bets

When you get started with an app, you’ll find it easy to locate the matches and bet types you want. Starting with the most popular and simple bets (Money Line, Totals or Spreads) is a great strategy. You can move on to more complex bets once you gain experience.

  • Point Spreads: In many matches, there is a clear favorite to win. The question that point spreads address is ‘by how many points / goals?’. With this bet type, the underdog is given a boost. This might be +1.5 goals in hockey, or +9.5 points in football or basketball. Each team is then given the same price – usually -110. This means you’ll win $100 for every $110 you bet (or a proportion of this for other bet sizes). If you pick the underdog, their score plus the spread needs to be better than the other team’s total. If you pick the favorite, they need to beat the other team by more than the spread. Note the .5 ensures ties are not possible when the spreads are added.
  • Money Line bets: Sportsbooks will give each team odds to win the game. The favorite will get a minus sign in front of their odds. This shows the amount you’d need to bet to win $100. For example, odds of -300 mean that you’d need to bet $300 to win an additional $100 (or $30 to win $10). The underdog will have positive odds. These show how much you’d win for a $100 wager. For example, odds of +220 means you’d win $220 for a $100 bet, plus your stake back. If you bet $5 on the same team, you’ll win $11.
  • Totals bets: This time you are betting on the combined total goals or points for both teams in a match. These wagers are also known as ‘Under / Over’ bets. Each book will set a score, and you bet either under or over – depending on your judgement. Odds are usually set at -110 for both sides of the spread. For example, if an Iowa sportsbook sets a total of 50 points in a college football game, you’d use your knowledge of the teams’ defenses and offences to decide whether it is likely to be higher or lower scoring than this – and bet accordingly.

Other types of bets

  • Futures bets: Most bets are placed for upcoming matches, or even on the day. Futures bets are for longer term results. For example, as soon as the Vince Lombardi trophy is lifted in one year – you can place a futures bet on the next Super Bowl winners. Futures bets encompass division / conference winners, player of the year and the eventual winners of the world series / Stanley cup.
  • Parlay bets: All the bets above are on single outcomes. Parlays give you a way to combine more than one match on a single bet slip. The advantage of Parlay bets is that you can win a lot of money for a small stake. This needs to be balanced with the added difficulty of getting more than one correct result. Many Iowa sports betting apps will have promotions boosting returns for bets with 4 or more matches. Some also offer insurance, with your stake back if you lose by a single leg. Parlays can be on many different bets, for example totals, spreads or money lines.
  • Teaser bets: These multiple match bets are easier to land than a pure parlay. The reason is that the spreads are wider. Teasers are also known as ‘Alternative Spreads’ at some books. Instead of +1.5, you might bet +5.5 – giving you a better chance of winning. This is balanced by lower odds on those matches with wide spreads. With less chance of an early bust, Teasers are a popular way of enjoying a day of betting action for a single stake.
  • Round Robin bets: For those familiar with horse racing bets, Round Robins are the sports betting equivalent of ‘Boxing’ a bet. Each team you pick will play off against each other, and in multiples depending upon how many selections you make. The advantage of these bets is that one team losing will not stop you winning – although it will eliminate any singles / multiples involving that team.
  • Prop bets: Proposition or Prop bets are based on player and team performances that are separated from the main match outcome. These can include first player / team to score, betting for individual game periods, highest scoring player and many more. Prop bets can be based on season-long performances too – for example player of the year.

Live Betting

Mobile betting apps make new formats possible. Live betting covers many of the bet types already listed above, but takes place while matches are underway. Odds will change via a feed as the action unfolds. These can change very quickly depending on the action.

You’ll have an opportunity to assess the action, and place extra bets if you find an opportunity. Using apps means you’ll be able to do this from the stadium, or even in a bar while enjoying the game.

An additional innovation that some apps use is ‘Cash Out’ or early redemption bets. Here you can redeem a bet at any time – the sportsbook will give you a price, and you choose whether to accept it.

Betting on horse races in Iowa

Horse race betting was already legal in Iowa before Bill 617 was signed. This type of betting got a carve-out in the 2006 ‘UIGEA’ and is well-established online.

Betting on horses follows a different format to sports betting. Instead of taking odds offered by the books, bets are organized into pools. Pari-mutuel betting takes the bets on all the horses, with the total fund paid out to the winning tickets only (minus a fee for the tracks). There are different pools for win, show, place and the various multiple horse bets.

Here are the main bets you can place:

  • Win: Your selection needs to be first past the post
  • Show: Here your horse can come either first or second
  • Place: Anywhere in the top 3 will get you a return
  • Exacta: You pick two horses to come first and second
  • Trifecta: Three selections needed to come in 1-2-3 this time
  • Superfecta: The hardest bet to land, 4 selections in the right order

You can ‘box’ multiple horse wagers. This means you bet multiple times, which allows your selections to finish in any order. The final type of bet covers several races. With a Pick 5 / 6 bet, you choose.

There are three major horse racing betting sites active in Iowa. These are Bet America (who also run sports betting sites), TwinSpires and TVG. You can find more in this detailed page covering Iowa horse racing betting.

You’ll only find one horse racing track in Iowa. Prairie Meadows, near Des Moines, offers a calendar of Thoroughbred and Quarter horse racing – as well as their big casino and sportsbook.

Iowa Sports Betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Iowa?

Yes. Bill SF 617 was signed by Governor Kim Reynolds in May 2019. This legalized retail and mobile sports betting. Each casino is allowed to license up to 2 mobile sportsbooks in addition to a retail one.

To legally bet, you need to be 21+ and inside state lines. Registration for online betting needs to be completed in person (this rule expires at the end of 2020). There are also restrictions on betting on eSports and on college sports which involve Iowan teams.

Where can I bet on sports in Iowa?

You’ll have two choices. First, you can go to any of the 18 casinos which have (or soon will have) retail sportsbooks. Second, you can download an app or use your web browser for mobile betting.

Can I bet on sports using my phone?

Yes. Sports betting is available for both Android phones and iPhones. You can download apps either from the sportsbook websites (for Android) or from the Apple App Store. These apps give you full betting functionality, including a cashier and new innovations such as live betting.

Are online sportsbooks safe?

As long as you stick to books which are licensed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission then you can bet with complete peace of mind. These books are regulated, with fair terms of use and protection for problem gamblers. If you do end up having a dispute, you have an avenue for complaint via the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission website.

Are offshore betting sites legal or safe?

Offshore sites are not regulated by a responsible body. While they claim to be ‘legal’, any licenses are issued by governments on Caribbean island-states – and oversight on the companies involved is minimal. If an offshore book closes overnight, taking your bankroll with it, you have zero recourse.

There is no good reason to take the risk of betting at offshore books now legal options are available in the Hoosier state.

Are DraftKings and FanDuel legal in Iowa?

Yes. Bill SF 617 included provision for Daily Fantasy Sports as well as sports betting. Both DraftKings and FanDuel have begun their DFS operation – and will launch full sports betting very soon. Prior to this change, Iowa was one of only a handful of states to ban DFS contests online.

Is it legal to bet on college sports?

Yes, you can bet on college sports which don’t involve anyone under the age of 18 in Iowa. In line with many other states, you will not be able to place a wager on a college game which involves an Iowa-based team.