Gaming infrastructure, a communal love for sports, and a legislature ready to make moves… Iowa was a sports betting “perfect storm”. On Aug. 15, 2019, Iowa became the 11th state in the nation, and the first in the upper Midwest to make sports betting legal. From Prairie Meadows to Waterloo, betting in Iowa has taken off. Iowa sports betting handle has increased by the month as more operators join the party. The state has embraced legal sports wagering, stepping up to lay money on a variety collegiate and professional sporting events. Iowa bettors were initially required to visit a brick-and-mortar casino sportsbook in order to register for mobile wagering, but now it can all be done online.
Regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, the Iowa sports betting market has quickly become one of the strongest in the nation. In the sections below we take a look at the Iowa sports betting industry, describe which Iowa casinos offer retail sports betting, how to wager online, cover the best bonuses and free bets currently in the state, and even offer a very special Iowa sports betting FAQ.
Best Iowa online sportsbooks
List of licensed Iowa online sportsbooks
Iowa sports 19 state-licensed casinos, all of which have now acquired sports betting permits. Eighteen of the 19 jumped at the opportunity to pursue online sports betting, quickly working through the application process. The lone holdout was the Casino Queen Marquette, which after delaying a few months with much speculation, eventually followed suit.
Iowa sports betting online and retail sportsbook locations include:
|Casino||Online Partner(s)||Online/Mobile Launch||Retail Launch|
|Isle Bettendorf||William Hill||Aug. 15, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Isle Waterloo||William Hill||Aug. 15, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Lakeside||William Hill||Aug. 15, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Prairie Meadows||William Hill||Aug. 15, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Harrah's Council Bluff||William Hill||Aug. 15, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Horseshoe Casino||William Hill||Aug. 15, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Grand Falls||Elite Sportsbook||Aug. 27, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Rhythm City||Elite Sportsbook||Aug. 27, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Riverside||Elite Sportsbook||Aug. 27, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Q Casino||Q Sportsbook||Nov. 12, 2019||Aug. 27, 2019|
|Catfish Bend||PointsBet||Nov. 26, 2019||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Hard Rock Sioux City||Hard Rock Sportsbook||Dec. 16, 2019||Sep. 20, 2019|
|Wild Rose: Clinton||DraftKings||Feb. 19, 2020||Oct. 3, 2019|
|Wild Rose: Jefferson||DraftKings||Feb. 19, 2020||Oct. 3, 2019|
|Wild Rose: Emmetsburg||DraftKings||Feb. 19, 2020||Oct. 3, 2019|
|Diamond Jo||FanDuel||Sept. 9, 2020||Aug. 29, 2019|
|Grand Falls||BetFred||Sept. 10, 2020||Sept. 10, 2020|
|Diamond Jo Worth||BetMGM||Jan. 4, 2021||Aug. 29, 2019|
|Wild Rose||BetRivers||Jan. 4, 2021||N/A|
|Ameristar||theScore Bet||Feb. 16, 2021||Aug. 15, 2019|
|Casino Queen Marquette||TBD||TBD||TBD|
Online Sports Betting Operators in Iowa
Each Iowa casino is allowed to host two skins on its sports betting license, which means there exists the possibility of 38 individual wagering apps in the Iowa sports betting marketplace. Those who want to open a sports betting account have plenty of online sportsbooks to choose from. Current online operators in the state include:
- Launch: Jan. 4, 2021
- Casino Partner: Diamond Jo Worth Casino
- Read our review
Iowa became the eighth state in which BetMGM offers legal online sports wagering. The BetMGM app is integrated with MGM’s rewards program, and customers can redeem rewards at MGM properties around the U.S. Additionally, BetMGM offers sports gambling fans an industry-leading array of sports to bet on, including lesser-known sports such as cricket, rugby, and even the Canadian Football League.
“I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year than by launching BetMGM in Iowa, a state well known for its passionate sports fans,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said via press release. “Our connection with MGM Resorts enables BetMGM users in the Hawkeye State to earn rewards, from hotel suites to dinners at award-winning restaurants, all while engaging in the excitement of our cutting-edge sports betting experience.”
- Launch: Jan. 4, 2021
- Casino Partner: Wild Rose Casino
- Read our review
BetRivers is owned and operated by Rush Street Interactive and is live in several other states including Pennsylvania, Indiana and Colorado. BetRivers has partnered with Wild Rose Casino in order to operate in Iowa and offer online betting in the state. The Wild Rose Casino has also partnered with DraftKings, so the BetRivers partnership is online-only. BetRivers offers one of the most generous welcome packages in the form of a deposit match up to $250 with just a 1x wagering requirement.
BetRivers also boasts one of the best loyalty programs in the US market. The iRush Rewards program awards points with every bet you place, which can be used to buy bonus cash, odds boosts, wheel spins and more. The iRush rewards program is a 10 tier system where the higher you go, the more perks you earn.
- Launch: August 15, 2019
- Casino Partner: Isle Bettendorf, Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo, Lakeside Casino, Prairie Meadows Racetrack, Harrah’s Council Bluffs, Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs
- Read our review
Industry veteran William Hill went live in Iowa on Day 1 of sports betting, accepting online wagers beginning August 15th, 2019. William Hill sportsbook is partnered with six brick-and-mortar casinos in Iowa, making it the most connected online bookmaker in the state. Prospective bettors can set up their online account in-person at the Isle Bettendorf, Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo, Lakeside, or Prairie Meadows Racetrack casinos along with both Harrah’s properties in Council Bluffs. Iowa sports bettors have flocked to William Hill, opening sports betting accounts, making online sports bets, and breaking sports betting records, resulting in the operator being number one in the state as measured by revenue. In fact, Prairie Meadows casino in some months has been the busiest sportsbook in the state, probably because it is attached to Prairie Meadows Racetrack, the only Iowa racing facility.
- Launch: August 27, 2019
- Casino Partner: Grand Falls, Rhythm City, Riverside Casino
Elite Sportsbook, powered by the Bet.Works tech platform, was the second online sportsbook to launch in Iowa – less than two weeks after William Hill. Notably, potential bettors must first join the Resort Club before they can sign up to bet online. Like the entire registration process, this must be done in-person at any of its three partner casinos.
Elite Sportsbook and its three brick-and-mortar partners, Grand Falls, Rhythm City, and Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, are all owned by Elite Casino Resorts. This makes it a smaller operator and retail sportsbook with a premium feel.
- Launch: November 12, 2019
- Casino Partner: Q Casino
Q Sportsbook was the third operator to accept online bets in Iowa, beginning Nov. 12, 2019. Unlike most online Iowa sportsbooks, Q takes wagers online solely through a mobile app. There is no browser alternative. Using IGT as its software partner, Q accepts all major bet types the industry has come to expect, and is available for both Android and iOS users. Registration must be completed in person at its retail casino, the Q Casino in Dubuque.
- Launch: November 26, 2019
- Casino Partner: Catfish Bend Casino
- Read our review
- Play Now: Get the bonus
A relative newcomer to the world of sports wagering, Aussie-based PointsBet was founded in 2017. Bettors in legal U.S. markets, like New Jersey, Colorado, Illinois, and Indiana have come to love their approach to the industry, offering both traditional and unique wager types that you can’t find anywhere else. Iowa sports betting fans, including fans of the National Hockey League, an official partner of PointsBet, will come to enjoy the sportsbook as well.
PointsBetting, a PointsBet exclusive, keeps bettors engaged for every second, because every score, every goal, every point, every yard can matter. In 2019, one bettor won $600K from a single NFL PointsBetting wager. This may be useful for sports bettors interested in betting on college sports, particularly the Iowa Hawkeyes. Be sure to check out the PointsBet retail location at Catfish Bend Casino, which also includes a spa and golf resort, the next time you’re in Burlington.
Hard Rock Sportsbook
- Launch: December 16, 2019
- Casino Partner: Hard Rock Sioux City
Hard Rock Sportsbook now has a foothold among Iowa sports betting fans through its Sioux City location. The online sportsbook went live on Dec. 16, 2019, a nice holiday gift for Iowa bettors. Hard Rock uses the well respected GiG (Gaming Innovation Group) software platform, and offers a full betting sheet to choose from, including all major college games.
- Launch: February 19, 2020
- Casino Partner: Wild Rose Clinton, Wild Rose Emmetsburg, Wild Rose Jefferson
- Read our review
- Play Now: Get the bonus
The ruler of daily fantasy sports, DraftKings was the sixth online bookmaker to go live in Iowa, and the first to launch in 2020. DraftKings also established Iowa sportsbooks at its three retail partner locations, the Wild Rose properties in Clinton, Emmetsburg, and Jefferson. Iowa joins states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Indiana as DraftKings sportsbook territories. Iowa racing fans will surely enjoy DraftKings’ many NASCAR betting markets and its generous deposit match for new customers.
- Launch: September 9, 2020
- Casino Partner: Diamond Jo, Diamond Jo Worth (retail only)
- Read our review
FanDuel quickly opened retail sportsbooks at both Diamond Jo properties in the state on Aug. 29, 2019, shortly after betting went live. More than a year later, the company launched its online/mobile option, bringing the total number of states with a digital FanDuel sportsbook to eight. After setting their online sportsbook account with FanDuel, Iowa bettors should be sure to check out their promotions, which often include a risk free bet after making your first deposit.
- Launch: February 16, 2021
- Casino Partner: Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs
- Read our review
theScore is a Canadian sports information company that is ready to make its mark on the American sports betting scene. It created a sports betting app, theScore Bet, as a complement to its extremely popular theScore app. theScore Bet is live in a number of states, including Iowa, and is a solid option for all bettors.
- Launch: September 10, 2020
- Casino Partner: Grand Falls Casino Resort
- Read our review
BetFred is an interesting sportsbook, not least because of its unusual name, which is taken from its founder, Fred Done. Betfred started in Great Britain and grew into a huge sportsbook there. Now Betfred is ready to expand here in America. Betfred also has a branded retail casino sportsbook at the Grand Falls Casino Resort.
- Launch: TBD
- Casino Partner: TBD
- Read our review
In February 2020 the Kindred Group signed a deal with Caesars Entertainment that will bring Unibet sportsbooks to both Iowa and Indiana. Previous reports indicated that Unibet would partner with the two Harrah’s properties in the state, both of which are owned by Caesars Entertainment. However, that has not happened yet, with both casinos partnering with William Hill. It is still unclear when or whether Unibet will enter the Iowa market. If they do go live in the state soon, bettors will be excited about the risk free bets offered to new customers.
The Latest Iowa News
Gov. Pete Ricketts had until Wednesday to act on bill that will allow existing tribal casinos, racinos, and horse racetracks to take sports bets.
The bill will now go to Gov. Pete Ricketts for signature. Should he approve, work on regulations, launch could start immediately.
Amendment that will prevent wagering on Cornhusker football or from your mobile device easily passed in Nebraska.
Most notable about Iowa sports betting operations is how quick the turnaround was from a bi-partisan legislative passage in April 2019, to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature a couple of weeks later, to bettors in mid-August being able to wager on the season kick-off between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Miami (Ohio) Redhawks.
It took three-and-a-half months. Were there any bets available on that?
Other states, such as Illinois and Tennessee, which passed betting legislation around the same time, were not nearly as efficient with their rollouts.
More than a half-dozen casinos introduced sports wagering to the state at noon on Aug. 15, 2019, with more going live over the ensuing weeks.
While most states roll out brick-and-mortar betting with mobile following at a later date, Iowa once again broke the mold. The William Hill online sports betting app launched the same day, Aug. 15, as retail betting, making Iowa the first state to release both simultaneously.
Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) administrator Brian Ohorilko attributes the state’s ability to hit the gridiron running to the fact the overseeing panel began preparing for the possibility of legal sports betting in 2018, after the U.S. Supreme court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (1992).
Another step the IRGC took to speed things along was to establish relationships with states that already have sports betting and get copies of their rules and regulations on wagering. No issues getting a little help from your friends.
In July 2019, the Iowa sports betting rules, which govern how sports betting is to be conducted in the state, including operator applications and licensure and establishing problem gambling policy, were OK’d by the IRGC following a public hearing.
Specifics on Iowa law & regulations
The American Gaming Association, which promotes the interests of the casino industry, expressed reasoned praise for the Iowa sports betting law:
“The state of Iowa has set its legal sports betting market up for success with a reasonable tax rate, mobile wagering, strong consumer protections and provisions that put responsible gaming at the forefront. Through the leadership of champions like Iowa Gaming Association President and CEO Wes Ehrecke, Iowans will now have a safe alternative to the illegal market that has thrived in the Hawkeye State and across the country…”
Here are a few things to know:
- $45,000 license fee, $10,000 annual renewal fee
- 6.75 percent tax rate on sports wagering revenue
- Sports betting regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission
- Two skins per license allowed
- There is no mandate of use of official league battle
- Remote registration available as of Jan. 1, 2021
- Mobile apps also will be geofenced and will only operate within Iowa state lines
- The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission oversees sports betting in the state
- No integrity fees
Iowa sports betting: Frequently asked questions
Is there legal mobile sports betting in Iowa?
Yes, mobile sports betting is legal in Iowa. The legislature approved legal sports betting in the state, including mobile betting, in 2019.
In Iowa, each licensed casino is permitted two individually branded sports betting apps/websites, or “skins.”
Some casinos require that you are also in possession of a loyalty card when registering a mobile sports betting app. For instance, Grand Falls Casino forces this, but you can get the process started through its Elite Sportsbook wagering site.
Do I need to sign up for an Iowa online sportsbook in-person?
This is an important question because the answer used to be yes, but now the answer is no. When sports betting was legalized in the state, new bettors had to sign up in-person at a casino sportsbook. This was required in order to verify the identity of the individual but also had the added incentive of potential increased revenue for the casino. If someone ventures to the casino to register for a sports betting account they may also engage in some casino gambling or grab something to eat. This is why in-person registration is still required in Nevada and Illinois.
On January 1, 2021, the in-person registration requirement expired. Now, Iowans are free to sign up using a mobile device or computer without having to venture to a local casino. This is a huge development for bettors in the state who, for whatever reason, don’t have the time or desire to visit a casino in-person to sign up for an account.
Who can place sports wagers at Iowa sportsbooks?
The legal gambling age in the state of Iowa is 21, which applies for sports betting, too. In addition, they’ll need to be able to verify their age (and identity) via a valid ID or other identity verification techniques when registering their account either online or at the casino.
Regulations also state that players who win in excess of $1,200 provide their social security number.
In order to promote responsible gambling, bettors on Iowa’s self-exclusion lists will not be permitted to enter state casinos, and therefore will be unable to place sports bets at retail outlets or register for mobile sports betting apps.
Do I need to be in Iowa to place real-money wagers?
Yes. Bettors will need to enable location services so that they may be geo-targeted in Iowa before placing a real-money wager, whether at a retail location or one of the many Iowa online sportsbooks.
However, all other account management features, such as cashiering, can be handled from out-of-state. Players can also register their accounts from anywhere.
In South Dakota, sports betting is legal but limited to retail casinos in Deadwood. As such, people in that state can register and make a deposit at home and then travel across the border to Iowa to make their sports bets. Bettors do not need to be residents of Iowa to place a wager, so long as they have both feet planted within its borders when placing a bet.
How is money deposited online?
Some casinos have rolled out their own prepaid card (Play+) which can be funded with a checking account or PayPal. Other common industry options include:
- Online banking transfers
- Credit / debit cards (MasterCard/Visa)
What type of bets and betting markets are available?
Iowa does not permit in-play or prop betting on Iowa collegiate games. Aside from college prop bets, the market is pretty wide open, with an array of professional and college markets at the bettor’s disposal. Sports include:
In terms of game formats, Iowa sports betting apps offer most of the old standbys including totals, spreads, moneylines, parlays, futures, prop bets, and in-game. Options like PointsBetting, offered exclusively on PointsBet, have also been well received.
Are there any sign-up bonuses for Iowa sports betting sites?
Since most welcome bonuses are focused on first-time depositors, it would be in a player’s best interest to shop around for offers, which could range from a matched deposit, weekly betting promos, a matched free bet, or risk-free bet. As you can imagine, free bets are a popular welcome bonus.
Does Iowa offer any other kinds of online casino gaming?
Not at present. The legislation legalizing online sports betting did not cover online casino games or online poker. There is no timeline or indication that these verticals will be legalized. However, we do expect Iowa to revisit online gambling expansion if their online sports betting industry performs well.
Iowa is considering legalizing an online lottery, but has not done so yet.
What are the taxes and licensing fees on sports betting?
Legislators set up Iowa’s sports betting industry for success, with a tax rate and licensing fees that are both very reasonable.
The tax rate is just 6.75% on sports betting revenue, which is significantly lower than even New Jersey, which has a thriving industry.
The licensing fee is just $45,000, which was low enough to encourage just about every casino in the state to give sports betting a try.
How did we arrive at legal sports betting in Iowa?
Going into the way-back machine, the first riverboat casino took its first bet in 1991. By 1992, three casinos run by Native American tribes had begun operations. Two years later, Iowa lawmakers allowed 24-hour gambling.
In 2003, Black Hawk, Palo Alto, Worth, and Wapello passed gambling referendums.
Iowa sports betting history begins when Republican Rep. Jake Highfill proposed legislation in 2018 in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing New Jersey’s lawsuit challenge to PASPA. Highfill’s measure, which allowed for sports wagering in Iowa’s commercial casinos, missed the fast track. However, when the high court ruled gambling could expand nationwide the Iowa Legislature adjourned before adopting the betting measure.
In early 2019, Sen. Roby Smith and Rep. Bobby Kaufmann each proposed sports wagering measures, HF 648 and SF 617 respectfully. During the bills’ advancement in the legislature, there were tussles regarding who would oversee the betting operation, where data would originate, and in-game betting. A final amendment delaying fantasy sports implementation to 2020 was added.
Once differences were smoothed out, with legislators meeting in the middle many times, a final version of SF 617, the sports betting bill, passed in the Senate, was approved 67-31 in the House, and was given to Gov. Reynolds for her signature, which occurred May 13.
The initial target date for sports betting to begin was July 4, 2018 “to emphasize that it’s a freedom we’re giving people,” according to Sen. Smith. That date was pushed back to accommodate rule making and the implementation process.
Sports betting began in Iowa, both retail and online, on Aug. 15, 2019. Sports betting revenue has continued to increase as the industry has grown and thrived in the state. Additional Iowa sportsbooks are expected to go live in 2021 and 2022 as more Iowans engage in mobile betting and daily fantasy sports. Sports betting in Iowa is here to stay.