Action is picking up in Iowa, and not just because Big Ten football is coming back this weekend.
The Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission approved a round of licenses, setting up both the launch of William Hill at Harrah’s and Horseshoe Council Bluffs as well as the imminent online launch of theScore.
William Hill live in the Council Bluffs area now
Thanks to the partnership between Caesars Entertainment and William Hill, Harveys Management, which operates both the Harrah’s and Horseshoe casinos in Council Bluffs, now has William Hill-branded sportsbooks live at both properties. The retail book at the Horseshoe has betting windows and kiosks, operating on the following schedule:
- Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Harrah’s Council only offers kiosks right now. They operate on the same hours as the facilities at the Horseshoe.
There’s another amenity available at the Horseshoe as well. Bettors new to William Hill can register for the online sportsbook while they are on-site at that casino. William Hill is offering a risk-free first bet worth up to $300 for new customers at either site.
William Hill offers online wagering via mobile apps for both Android and iOS. Getting mobile registration in place in Council Bluffs could represent opening up online wagering to a new audience.
Why Council Bluffs is a desirable place to be
Council Bluffs is just across the state line from Omaha, NE. That’s one of the largest cities in the Cornhusker State. Additionally, sports wagering remains illegal in Nebraska.
Until that point, Omahans had to travel further to register for online wagering because of the in-person registration requirement in IA. With registration now more convenient, it’s possible that more Omahans may make the shorter trip.
This could grow William Hill’s already dominant market share in the Hawkeye State. Last month, that operator accounted for nearly 52% of dollars wagered in the state.
That registration mandate expires on Jan. 1, 2021, so the potential may increase when bettors from Omaha no longer have to actually visit the casino to register.
Iowa commission gives approval for theScore Bet Iowa
A new operator could potentially cut into William Hill’s market share. A new betting app that will be hitting the Iowa betting market soon is theScore Sportsbook.
At its monthly meeting last Thursday, the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission approved an advance deposit sports betting operator agreement between Ameristar in Council Bluffs and Score Digital Sports Ventures. The latter is the company that operates theScore Bet online sportsbook in several states already.
theScore is a Canadian sports media company that tries to differentiate its sportsbook by combining that product with those media products in its app. For example, app users who denote the Iowa Hawkeyes as one of their favorite teams will get sports betting prompts customized along those lines.
The approval of this contract is a preliminary step, however. The contracted parties still need to get everything lined up for the actual launch of the sports betting app and website, which includes procedures for in-person registration for the rest of this year.
So right now, there’s no official word on when theScore Bet will actually start taking bets in IA, but the pressure to get launched while football season is going will certainly push the operator to get things off the ground.
Prairie Meadows racing schedule gets the green light
Along with those sports betting items, the IRGC gave Prairie Meadows the ok to offer live racing on its proposed schedule in a few months’ time. The new slate begins on April 30, 2021, and runs through Sept. 25, 2021.
The track will hold four races a week, one each on Sundays, Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays through that time frame. There will be no racing on May 2 and 3.
In addition, the track will offer more events on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Times for any and all of these events are still pending.