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
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.
“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 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.
“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.
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.”
The Australian-based company became partners with Caesars to enter the US market. Its first US-based launch was in Colorado.
Unibet Sportsbook is partnering with Harrah’s Council Bluffs. “There’s also been some movement there, too,” said Ohorilko.
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.”
“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:
- WynnBet Sportsbook, which is securing Iowa access through the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.
- The 888 sportsbook, which has approved the contract with Catfish Bend in Burlington.
- Twin River acquired the Bally’s brand last fall and wants to operate under the master license at Grand Falls Casino, the casino near Sioux Falls.
- TSG Interactive has ties to Fox Bet Sportsbook and has an access agreement with Isle Waterloo.
Ohorilko said lulls in progress aren’t necessarily a warning sign. Sportsbooks often prioritize markets and maybe 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.