Circa Sports, Barstool, Unibet And More: Major Sportsbooks Coming To Iowa In Droves

Posted By Russ Mitchell on May 21, 2021 - Last Updated on June 22, 2021

Minnesota’s the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but will Iowa be the land of 10,000 sportsbooks?

State code allows its 19 Iowa casinos to carry three distinct online sportsbooks — or “skins.” Though it is unlikely the state will max out those 57 slots, there is room for the Iowa sports betting market to grow.

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) Administrator Brian Ohorilko provided the latest information on the pending sports betting operator licenses to PlayIA this week.

To say the least, there is no shortage of operators wanting to go live in the state in time for the 2021 football betting season.

Iowa sportsbooks with ‘pending’ status

Barstool

Penn Sports Interactive has a pending agreement with Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, which would bring Barstool Sportsbook to Iowa.

The controversial operator is live in four states, including its recent launch in Indiana. Ameristar’s first online skin was theScore Bet.

BettHouse and Rushmore

BettHouse is hoping to go live yet this spring through Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport, but Ohorilko said, “they’re working through things with us.”

CEO Steve Berman of BettHouse said during an interview with PlayIA in March:

“Well, right now we’re expected to be in Iowa live — I would say — sometime in May. It could be the end of April or May.”

Rhythm City is the only Iowa casino so far to tap the third skin; the casino also has a pending contract with Rushmore Gaming and currently hosts the Iowa-based Elite Sportsbook.

Betway

Digital Gaming Company operates the Betway Sportsbook brand. The European online gambling company has a contract with Diamond Jo in Dubuque, which is already hosts the FanDuel online sportsbook.

Ohorilko said:

“They’re moving through the process with us right now with an anticipated go-live date of the end of August or the beginning of September.”

Circa Sports

Circa Sports plans to join the Iowa market through an operating contract with Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Emmetsburg.

Known as the “world’s largest sportsbook,” Circa is based in Vegas and operates in Colorado.

Ohorilko said:

“They’re working through the process right now. I think they would like to be live by fall.”

The Wild Rose casino hosts a retail and online DraftKings sportsbook and is partners with BetRivers, too.

MaximBet

The Carousel Group would like to establish MaximBet Sportsbook in Iowa through one of four Caesars-affiliated casinos in the state. In April, the operator shifted its plans from launching SportsBetting.com.

Carousel Group CEO Daniel Graetzer passed along the following through a spokesperson:

“At this time, SportsBetting.com is unlikely to be launched in Iowa. The plan is to have MaximBet.com up and running in the Hawkeye State by July.”
Iowa’s Caesars casinos are Harrah’s and Horseshoe Council Bluffs as well as the Isle casinos in Bettendorf and Waterloo. The casinos currently host William Hill retail and online sportsbooks.

PlayUp

PlayUp will enter Iowa through the Caesars-affiliated casino Horseshoe Council Bluffs and had its contract approved in April.

The Australian-based company became partners with Caesars to enter the US market. Its first US-based launch was in Colorado.

Unibet

Unibet Sportsbook is partnering with Harrah’s Council Bluffs. “There’s also been some movement there, too,” said Ohorilko.

USBookmaking

Nevada-based USBookmaking will partner with Q Casino in Dubuque and “is another company that’s making some progress” with hopes of a launch “possibly by fall.”

Vigtory

Vigtory initially gained market access on Nov. 19, 2020, at the Casino Queen in Marquette. FuboTV acquired Vigtory Sportsbook at the start of the year.

“We’re still waiting on backgrounds from that company,” Ohorilko said.

Other sportsbooks in the mix with less ‘movement’

“Those are kind of companies that seem to be really trying to get things done,” Ohorilko said.

The IRGC administrator said there has “not been much movement” with:

Ohorilko said lulls in progress aren’t necessarily a warning sign. Sportsbooks often prioritize markets and may be focusing on other states.

As long as sportsbooks are in good standing in other states, the IRGC can grant temporary licenses. That gives sportsbooks a window to operate while the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation completes background checks on stakeholders.

Iowa code calls for an initial $45,000 licensing fee each time an operator wants to launch its sportsbook in the state.

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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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