In-person and online horse racing betting is legal in Iowa for customers 21 or older. Legal betting options include wagers placed in-person at racetracks and OTBs plus mobile horse betting apps via advance deposit wagering operators (ADWs).
The Iowa horse racing betting industry has seen better days, but fans of the sport suffer no shortage of events to bet on thanks to parimutuel wagering offered by ADWs. The state is home to a single thoroughbred racetrack, one greyhound track, and several OTBs that simulcast races held around the world.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) oversees all forms of gambling in the state, including online horse racing betting trackside parimutuel wagering. The primary racing-related duties of the IRGC include administering state parimutuel wagering law, issuing licenses, and ensuring the integrity of the industry.
The Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (ITBOA) is also closely involved in the local racing industry. ITBOA is a non-profit organization, and its mission is to promote breeding and thoroughbred racing in Iowa. ITBPOA works closely with the legislature to protect the industry and sponsors numerous races throughout the state each season.
Best Mobile Horse Racing Betting Apps in Iowa
Iowa legalized advance deposit wagering (online horse racing betting) in 2011 via regulations adopted by the IRGC.
Most major horse racing betting sites serve customers from Iowa and accept wagers on races held around the world. Under state law, customers must be 21 or older to bet on horse races online in Iowa.
Fans can visit any of the recommendations listed above to download the official mobile app of each ADW. Every operated listed on BettingUSA operates in accordance with federal law and is either headquartered in the United States or maintains offices here. As such, fans can bet with these ADWs, confident in the knowledge that they are regulated and safe operators.
- Mobile apps: Mobile wagering via web app for iOS/Android
- Visit now: amwager.com
AmWager is a strong horse racing betting site in many respects. It offers parimutuel bets on an extensive collection of tracks in the US and abroad (498 tracks at last count), live video, advanced handicapping tools, several wagering interfaces ranging from simple to advanced, and a highly positive reputation.
A large racebook signup bonus and first deposit offer combined with an ongoing rebates program make the AmWager app one of the better online racebooks for bettors in IA who place a premium on getting extra value for their wagering dollars. Finally, AmWager is active in the Iowa racing community and frequently solicits feedback from customers.
- Mobile apps: iOS and Android
- Visit now: ia.tvg.com
TVG.com is operated by the TV channel of the same name dedicated to all things horse racing, which integrates nicely into the TVG mobile app. Customers can bet on horses and stream the TVG Network in HD on the same screen to get the best combined wagering/watching experience on the market.
The TVG app provides a full range of bets on every race plus access to stats, track info, betting pools info, and other tips such as custom race alerts. Iowa customers can also make cash deposits in-person at Prairie Meadows.
TVG is an excellent ADW, but there is one important caveat Iowa horse bettors need to know: TVG is not permitted to offer wagers on any tracks owned by Churchill Downs to Iowa customers – which means Iowa bettors cannot bet on the Kentucky Derby using the TVG app.
- Mobile apps: iOS and Android
- Visit now: twinspires.com
TwinSpires is the most polished mobile horse betting app in Iowa, with an easy to navigate and intuitive racebook interface, and extensive track coverage. Customers can also make use of advanced stats for horses, jockeys, trainers, and more to assist their handicapping efforts.
Churchill Downs Inc, the parent company of Churchill Downs Racetrack and the Kentucky Derby, operates the TwinSpires app, so prospective customers can rest assured they will be treated fairly by an established name in horse racing.
Iowa Racetracks: Prairie Meadows
Prairie Meadows Racetrack serves as Iowa’s only permanent live horse racing venue. The live racing season at Prairie Meadows usually runs from May through September and the schedule consists of approximately 90 live race days for thoroughbreds, quarter horses, and harness racing.
Trackside amenities include a full-service bar with snacks and year-round simulcasting so visitors can bet on races held around the country. Prairie Meadows racetrack also hosts a full sportsbook and casino, two restaurants, and a 168-room hotel.
The racetrack offers free admission to the facility with indoor/outdoor seating and free parking.
Prairie Meadows also hosts a special day each July featuring exotic animals, including zebras, camels, and ostriches.
1 Prairie Meadows Drive
Altoona, IA 50009
Iowa Dog Racing
Iowa also hosts one of the nation’s last remaining greyhound racetracks, the Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque.
Iowa Greyhound Park offers live dog racing from April through October. The track is connected to Q Casino, which provides a full complement of casino games, a retail sportsbook, three restaurants, and a hotel.
1899 Greyhound Park Drive
Dubuque, IA 52001
Major Horse Racing Events in Iowa
- Valley Junction Futurity: $225,000 est. stakes purse, open to any 2yo quarter horse, held each September
- Jim Bader Futurity: $150,000 est. purse, open to two year old quarter horses, held each September
- Altoona Derby: $125,000 est. purse, open to three y/o quarter horses, held each September
- Polk County Derby: $115,000 est. purse, open to any three y/o quarter horse, held each September
- Cornhusker Handicap: $300,000 purse, open to 3yo+ thoroughbreds, held each June
- Iowa Oaks: $200,000 purse, open to 3yo thoroughbreds, held each July
- Iowa Derby: $250,000 purse, open to 3yo thoroughbreds, held each July
Iowa OTB Locations
Iowa’s trackside options are limited with just one full-time horse racetrack, but several off-track betting facilities (OTBs) operate throughout the state to provide pari-mutuel wagering on races held elsewhere.
All Iowa off track betting locations are found within casinos or at racetracks:
- Prairie Meadows OTB
- Iowa Greyhound Park OTB
- Wild Rose Clinton OTB
- Wild Rose Emmetsburg OTB
- Wild Rose Jefferson OTB
Iowa Online Horse Racing Betting Law
Chapter 99D.11 of the state code provides additional guidance and requires operators to acquire licenses in Iowa. This bit of legislation has been the source of controversy. The law seems to indicate all ADW providers must have an agreement in place with Prairie Meadows Racetrack and the Iowa Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (Iowa HBPA) to receive a license.
However, the HBPA has long complained that out-of-state ADW providers offer their services in Iowa without authorization. For years, the HBPA has urged the IRGC to take action against such operators. To date, neither the IRGC nor the Attorney General has acted against those operators.
To summarize, mobile online horse racing bets are legal in Iowa but not particularly well-regulated due to the ongoing debate. The best option for fans today is to stick with US horse racing apps recommended here. We will keep this page updated as news develops.