Save the date, Iowa. Legal sports betting is set to commence on August 15th if all goes well over the next two weeks.
Earlier today, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) took the important step of approving the regulations that will govern sports betting across the state. Additionally, the Commission approved the licensing requests of 18 casinos interested in offering sports betting.
The IRGC has now set a tentative start date for Iowa sports betting: August 15th, 2019.
Iowa Sports Betting Regulations Approved
The IRGC held a meeting this morning to discuss proposed regulations governing sports betting in the state. The bill that was passed into law in May already covered the major issues such as setting a legal age and allowing mobile betting but tasked the Commission with formally adopting those rules.
The Commission began drafting those rules shortly after the bill was signed into law and presented them at today’s meeting. Regulators quickly approved the rules and now Iowa casinos have the legal framework in place to prepare for the launch of sports betting.
Additionally, the Commission approved 18 sports betting licensing applications at today’s meeting. The approvals were granted without issue as anticipated due to each casino already holding a gambling license with the IRGC.
With key regulations in place, Iowa casinos now have the legal framework in place allowing them to prepare for the launch of sports betting. The Commission also approved August 15th as the day to aim for to begin sports betting in Iowa.
You can see the full agenda and new sports betting rules here.
What to Expect from Iowa Sportsbooks
Now that sports betting is legal and most casinos have been issued licenses, the countdown is on. Sports fans in Iowa will soon have a wide range of choices between the various retail sportsbooks and mobile betting apps that will be managed by Iowa casinos.
Mobile Betting in the Works
According to local media reports, in-person sports betting is set to kick off first on August 15th with mobile betting apps set to launch later. An exact start date for mobile betting has not been set, but IRGC Administrator Brian Ohorilko told the Telegraph Herald earlier this week that some casinos plan to have mobile betting in place on August 15th.
Ohorilko also told the Des Moines Register that 15 of the 18 casinos that received licenses today plan to launch at least one mobile betting app.
Customers Must Be 21+ and Located in Iowa
All customers must be at least 21 years or older and located within state lines to place wagers. Mobile betting apps approved by the Commission will also be responsible for ensuring all customers are physically present within the state before accepting wagers.
Note that customers do not need to be residents of Iowa. If you reside elsewhere, you’re still welcome to bet online or through mobile devices whenever you’re in Iowa.
In-Person Registration Until 2021
Iowa sports betting regulations also require all customers to visit a casino in person to register for a mobile betting account. After that first check-in is complete, you’ll be able to log on and place wagers from anywhere in the state.
The provision requiring in-person registration will only be in place until 1 January 2021. After that date, new customers will be able to sign up online without visiting a casino in person.
Pro and College Betting Allowed
The new Iowa sports betting law allows sportsbooks to accept wagers on pro and college sports alike. Unlike some other states, Iowa has chosen not to prohibit wagers on in-state college teams.
The one restriction on college betting is sportsbooks may not offer in-play proposition wagers on games involving Iowa teams or individual players. Aside from that, college betting is full speed ahead.
What Still Needs to Happen
Now that Iowa casinos have their licenses in place and know the rules of the game, the race is on to get everything in place for launch. Some casinos have confirmed they’re aiming to begin on the very first day while others say they’ll need more time.
Between now and then, casinos will need to hire and train staff, finish construction on their retail sportsbooks and submit internal processes to the IRGC for final approval. Barring any unexpected developments, the first wagers should be booked about two weeks from now.
Third party gaming companies that partner with Iowa casinos must also seek approval from the IRGC before going live. A handful of such providers were approved at today’s meeting, including:
- Penn Sports Interactive
- Betfair Interactive / FanDuel
- Caesars Interactive Entertainment
- HR IA Gaming, LLC (unclear who this is – partnered with Hard Rock so it may be a subsidiary based on the initials)
Casinos partnered with any other online gaming providers must submit their contracts to the IRGC and receive approval over the next couple weeks in order to launch online betting on or around August 15th.
Tentative Start Dates for Each Sportsbook
Iowa’s casinos are now in varying stages of completing their sportsbooks, forming partnerships with online betting providers and developing their online betting capabilities.
There is no definitive word yet on when every casino will launch, but we do have details concerning the plans of most casinos.
The Diamond Jo Casinos: a spokesman for Diamond Jo parent company Boyd Gaming told the Telegraph Herald the plan is to get sportsbooks up and running at both casinos in time for the start of the NFL regular season in early September. Both Diamond Jo casinos are partnered with FanDuel and its parent company Betfair Interactive.
Q Casino: The CEO of Q Casino told the Telegraph Herald his casino hopes to launch in-person sports betting by late August or early September.
Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino: Prairie Meadows Senior VP and Chief Strategic Brad Rhines told the Des Moines Register today the sportsbook is pretty much ready to go right now and will go live ASAP. He also said mobile betting may even begin a few days before August 15th, which counters media reports that have said in-person wagering will be given the green light before online betting. Prairie Meadows is partnered with William Hill for sports betting.
Harrah’s Council Bluffs: Harrah’s Council Bluffs has not issued a start date for its sportsbook, but we do know Harrah’s will be powered by software from its parent company, Caesars Interactive Entertainment, and has a $2 million sportsbook in development.
Ameristar Council Bluffs: No word on a specific start date, but a sportsbook is still under construction as of today.
Catfish Bend Casino: No start date specified, but will be offering in-person and online betting in partnership with PointsBet US.
Grand Falls Casino Resort: Back in May, Grand Falls GM Sharon Haselhoff said the casino plans to launch sports betting in August, but did not name a firm date. The casino began construction on a new sportsbook at the end of June as a part of a $10 million expansion.
Since then, Grand Falls has reached a partnership with UK sports betting giant Betfred to launch a retail sportsbook and mobile betting.
Grand Falls parent company Elite Casino Resorts also has a partnership in place with Bet.Works to manage sports betting for all three of its properties (Grand Falls, Rhythm City and Riverside Casino).
This likely means Grand Falls Casino will be launching two separate betting apps as allowed by Iowa sports betting law, one in partnership with Betfred and another in partnership with Bet.Works.
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino: Hard Rock Casino received its sports betting license today, but Hard Rock execs notified the IRGC today that they would like more time to finalize a few details in the contract they are forming with their third-party sports betting provider.
Hard Rock has still not publicly named who it has chosen to operate its retail and online betting operations. The IRGC meets again on August 22nd and Hard Rock says it plans to submit its contract proposal then. Hard Rock officials now say they can probably begin taking wagers in person on August 15th but will have to wait until after the 22nd to commence online betting.
Horseshoe Council Bluffs: No start date specified. Horseshoe Council Bluffs is owned by Caesars Entertainment, which has its own online betting capabilities. However, Caesars also has a deal in place with DraftKings which could result in Horseshoe launching sports betting under the DraftKings brand (not confirmed).
Isle Casino Waterloo / Bettendorf: No specific start date, but both should be able to move fairly quickly as they are partnered with William Hill US for in-person, online and mobile betting. A page on the Isle Bettendorf says sports betting is “coming soon.”
Lakeside Casino: Lakeside is also partnered with William Hill and the closest to a start date they’ve given is “coming soon.”
Rhythm City Casino: Rhythm City parent company Elite Casino Resorts is partnered with Bet.Works to offer sports betting. A “coming soon” website hints at Elite Sportsbook but does not offer a firm start date.
Riverside Casino: Riverside Casino is also partnered with Bet.Works under the Elite Sportsbook label. Riverside Casino has not confirmed a start date.
Wild Rose Casinos in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson: The three Wild Rose Casinos in Iowa have been playing their cards close to the vest regarding their plans for sports betting. What we do know is back in May, Wild Rose Clinton GM Steve Nauman said his casino wants to go live on day one and was looking at two potential partners at the time.