Iowa Sports Betting
A Detailed Guide to Online and Retail Sports Betting in Iowa
The speed of change for sports betting in Iowa has surprised many bettors. From the new legislation being signed in May 2019, it took only 3 months for the first retail and online sportsbooks to open. Iowa became the 3rd state to pass legislation in 2019, joining a growing list of jurisdictions with access to legal sports betting online.
Unlike New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states – Iowa did not include online casino or poker games in their new legislation. You can bet online in other ways. Daily Fantasy Sports contests are now available, as are bets on the pari-mutuel horse racing betting pools.
This page is a detailed guide to getting the best from the new sports betting options in Iowa. You’ll find information on the live (retail) sportsbooks below, and the new online books too. If you are new to betting online, then the information on choosing a book, navigating the interface and the different bets you can place is for you. There is also practical information below, on topics like responsible gambling, bonuses and banking methods.
Sports betting laws in Iowa: What changed in 2019?
Changes to the gambling laws in Iowa were made possible by a federal act being overturned. In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned an act called ‘PASPA’. This had prevented the states from having jurisdiction over sports betting since the early 1990’s.
With PASPA out of the way, many states went ahead with comprehensive changes to their gambling legislation. One older act still affects online betting. The Wire Act pre-dates the internet, coming from 1961. This prevents bets being placed between state borders.
The new Iowa sports betting laws allow for bets to be placed only inside state lines at regulated and licensed books.
Each of the 19 brick and mortar casinos is able to apply for a retail (live) sportsbook license, plus two online sports betting licenses. With up to 38 online sportsbooks possible for just 3.15 million residents, there is likely to be fierce competition between the brands in the Hawkeye state.
Here are some of the details from act SF 617 concerning taxation and exclusions:
- At 6.75% of revenue, the tax rate for sports betting is lower than in some other regulated states
- License fees are also lower, at $45,000 + $10,000 renewal
- Prop bets on college teams based in Iowa are not allowed
- Up to two ‘skins’ (separate websites) per brick and mortar license holder
Live sportsbooks in Iowa
August 15th, 2019 saw the first retail sportsbooks open. There are more opening all the time at the different land-based and tribal casinos around the state.
Here are the venues which are open at the time of writing:
- Ameristar Council Bluffs
- Catfish Bend
- Isle Casino Bettendorf
- Isle Casino Waterloo
- Lakeside in Osceola
- Prairie Meadows
- Rhythm City
- Harrah’s Council Bluffs
- Horseshoe Council Bluffs
- Grand Falls in Larchwood
- Q Casino
- Diamond Jo in Dubuque
- Diamond Jo in Northwood
Online sportsbooks in Iowa
William Hill beat the other sportsbooks to become the first to open an online site in Iowa. This app and website is a partnership with several casinos – Lakeside, the Isle Casinos at Bettendorf and Waterloo and Prairie Meadows. William Hill are a huge international gambling brand with a lot of experience in both retail sportsbooks (including Nevada books) and online.
This was quickly joined by the Elite Sportsbook. This is an in-house platform, run by Elite Casino Resorts LLC – an Iowa based company that operate several big casinos. This new platform runs under 3 live casino licenses, Riverside Casino, Grand Falls Casino and Rhythm City Casino.
When it comes to online sports betting in Iowa, this is only the starting point. There are several big brands which have already announced their partnerships in IA, with a further list of books expected – though yet to announce their official land-based partners.
Online sports betting partnerships
- Ameristar Casino: Kambi, theScore
- Catfish Bend Casino: Pointsbet
- Diamond Jo (Dubuque): FanDuel, BetMGM
- Diamond Jo (Northwood): FanDuel, BetMGM
- Grand Falls: Bet.Works, Elite
- Hard Rock: Bet365, GiG
- Harrah’s: DraftKings, Scientific Games
- Horseshoe: DraftKings, Scientific Games
- Isle Casino – Bettendorf: Stars Group, William Hill
- Isle Casino – Waterloo: Stars Group, William Hill
- Lakeside Casino: William Hill
- Prairie Meadows: William Hill
- Rhythm City: Elite, Bet.Works
- Riverside Casino: Elite, Bet.Works
There are several casinos yet to announce their partners. Many more have announced only one of their two possible ‘skins’. With many more Iowa online sportsbooks expected to open soon, some of the biggest brands are expected to join the fray
Each of the land based and tribal casinos have the option to license 2 online sportsbooks. This will mean as many as 38 rival brands in the IA market. Players will certainly benefit from all this competition. As the brands enter, they will have marketing budgets to build up their player base. You can expect bonuses, free bets and plenty of promotions to come your way.
You will find out more about the different bonus offers at Iowa online sportsbooks below. First, a guide to accessing, navigating the sites and placing your bets.
How to access Iowa online sportsbooks?
There are 3 ways to access the online sportsbooks. Which you choose will depend on the devices and operating system you use.
- Responsive Websites: Browser access works for both desktop / laptops and for mobile devices. This is the best option for bigger screens, as the extra space lets you keep the matches, bet options and bet slip in view at the same time. Sportsbook websites are designed to automatically respond to both your screen size and your input method.
- Android Apps: Google don’t allow sports betting apps in their store. This means you’ll need to download Android apps direct from the sportsbook. This is safe (make sure you are browsing securely), though does involve clicking OK to download from an unknown source.
- iOS Apps: You might need to wait to get apps for your iPhone or iPad. These are available from some brands (who had existing apps in the Apple App store), though for newer brands the technical requirements recently changed. While we wait for the apps to appear, the website / browser versions of the site work fine.
Once you have a sportsbook installed, and an account registered. You’ll be ready to check out the different sections. Each of the books will vary slightly in terms of how they lay things out and organize their site. After you see a few online sportsbooks, you will realize that they are far more similar than they are different!
Here are the main sections of a typical sportsbook. Note that if you are using an app, some of the menus will be hidden until you need them (for example, you’ll bring the left-hand list of sports into view by swiping).
- Header Navigation: You’ll normally find the log-in / registration buttons on the top left. If you are already logged in, this will change to account info and cashier. Responsible gambling and promotions are usually also at the top level. For many books, you will find an additional link to their live (in-play) betting here.
- Left Hand Side: This is where you will find the list of sports. At the top are the popular leagues (usually the current in-season pro sports), followed by soccer, golf and tennis. Depending on the site you might find an A-Z here in its entirety, or the popular sports with a ‘more’ link hiding the extra options.
- Middle Section: Once you select a sport from the left, the middle section changes – showing the upcoming matches, plus a lot of extra navigation options. These change by sport. You might find college / pro matches on separate lists or be able to toggle between the divisions. Individual matches are listed with the money line, spread and totals odds. You can see the full list of bets for each match by clicking on a link either under the match or on the side.
- Right Hand Column: This is where you will find your bet slip. On apps this will be hidden until you need it. Bets are placed by clicking on the lines. They move to the bet slip – waiting for you to organize them and then confirm the bets. If you changed your mind, you will be able to remove a bet from your bet slip easily by clicking the ‘x’ on the top corner. You can sort bets into singles and parlays and add the amount to wager before you confirm.
Other useful areas of the online sportsbooks include a search function, support links (often including a live-chat icon) and links to the FAQ.
Betting on teams from Iowa
Unfortunately, there are no pro teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL from Iowa. There are plenty of teams in minor / regional leagues representing different sports. Online sportsbooks will allow for many bets on collegiate action, and Iowa is well represented in this.
While prop bets are an important part of many people’s betting strategy – there are some specific rules for this in Iowa.
In-state college games are excluded when it comes to proposition (player) betting.
What other action can you bet on at Iowa Sportsbooks?
You can bet on action from all around the country (and even worldwide) at the Iowa sportsbooks. While you’ll never be stuck for something to bet on, you will have to get used to the interfaces to sort the bets you want to place from the huge list of alternatives.
Here are the main options:
- Football: The biggest betting market by far, you can bet on all the NFL divisions, futures and player props. College football is also covered in a lot of depth.
- Hockey: Wide coverage ranging from individual matches, to divisions, play-offs and the Stanley cup.
- MLB: The huge number of games every season puts baseball in a category of its own.
- NBA: Totals, period betting and spreads are popular at major league and college basketball. Many books also include EuroLeague matches.
- Soccer: MLS matches sit alongside EPL, Champions League and many leagues / cups big and small from around the world.
- Combat Sports: Betting on the big showcase boxing matches is just the tip of the iceberg. You can also bet on MMA / UFC bouts.
- Auto Sports: Bet on NASCAR, Indy Car and Formula 1
- Golf: The major tours from around the world are covered including the PGA and Masters.
- Tennis: While the majors get the TV time, there is a busy schedule for tennis tournaments all year round.
At some Iowa sports betting sites, the range of matches and sports to bet on will go into more depth than this. Country-specific and niche sports including cricket, rugby, Aussie rules and snooker can also be found.
Note that betting on US horse races will not be handled by these new sportsbooks. This is available via a different set of sites, which operate under federal ADW rules. See below for more on these.
Bet types at Iowa sportsbooks
Whether you are betting at retail sportsbooks or online, there are a lot of new ways to bet which have not been available in IA before.
Heading the list is live betting. Some books call this in-play betting (or use the two terms interchangeably). The idea is that you can use mobile sportsbooks to bet on matches which are already underway. Data-feeds ensure that the odds are updated in real time. This gives you the chance to place bets during the action.
Some books also have cash-out or early redemption betting. This lets you end a bet at any time – even while a match is underway. This format can be used to free up some funds, get some cash back on a losing (or potentially losing) proposition or to take some cash off the table after several parts of a multiple bet come in.
Regular single-match bets are the most popular. These include classics like the money line, spreads and totals. As you view each match you will also find a range of player props and period betting – these do change depending on the sport.
Multiple match bets range from parlays (which simply roll the winnings from one match to the next), to teasers (which use spreads) and round robins.
Futures bets are popular, though you have to balance locking up your stake for a long time. You can bet on conference winners, play offs or even outright winners – or longer duration player bets.
Taking advantage of bonuses and promotions at Iowa online sportsbooks
With so many licenses available, you can be sure that competition between the online sportsbooks will be intense. This is great news for Iowa residents – you can take advantage of a lot of marketing money to get your betting bankroll off to a flying start.
When you compare the different offers at IA sportsbooks, you need to check the ‘small print. Many offers look similar based on the headlines. When you look at the details, you’ll quickly find that things like play-through requirements and exclusions make a lot of difference.
Here is an overview of the type of bonuses to expect, and what (if any) special terms to watch out for:
- Free (no-deposit) Bets: This is a popular incentive in other regulated states. Free bets are in the $20 ballpark. Look out for terms covering expiration dates and any wagering requirement for the money you win.
- Risk-Free First Bet: This type of offer refunds your stake for your first bet if it loses. The range is from $25 up to $500. Look out for whether a losing bet is refunded in cash, or whether you get betting credits (which need to be wagered at least once more).
- Matched Welcome Bonus: Matching your first deposit is a popular bonus. What you need to look out for is how you release this back to your cash account. Some sportsbooks require the bonus money to be wagered multiple times, others just once.
Ongoing promotions and special deals are designed to keep you coming back. If you have a specific match in mind, it is definitely worth checking all the IA sports betting sites – you might find your match the subject of a promotion (for example cash back or enhanced odds) at one of them.
Popular promos include insurance against single-leg parlay losses or reversals in overtime. You will often find boosted odds, either on a single match or combination of 2 or more. When the big events come around, it can be worth looking for prop bets and specials.
Loyalty schemes run at some Iowa sportsbooks. These are harder to compare, as many are complex. You might find tiered programs, where bonuses are unlocked as you move up levels. Others are more like flat cash-back schemes. Still other sports betting loyalty schemes tie in with the comps at the license holding live casino.
Banking methods at Iowa online sportsbooks
To take advantage of most bonuses, you’ll need to make a deposit.
A big advantage of being able to bet at state regulated sportsbooks is that your deposit and withdrawals are safe. Any problems or disputes have an avenue for complaint via the Iowa Lottery and Gaming Commission.
You can choose from some very ordinary banking methods. These include your bank cards, simple bank transfers and even cash. If you prefer, then there are 3rd party apps and branded credit cards – which will help keep your personal banking and the betting sites separated.
Here are the most popular ways to deposit at IA sportsbooks:
- Credit / Debit Cards: Your usual bank cards will be welcomed. Visa and MasterCard are welcome at all books, some might accept Discover or Amex cards too.
- Branded Debit Cards: Brands including DraftKings have their own debit cards in other states. You’ll load cash on via your bank (or cards), then use the Play+ card to deposit, withdraw and spend with.
- Bank Transfers: The two most popular bank transfer methods are ACH (eChecks) and Bill Pay. You can also use Bank Wires, which only become economical for larger deposits.
- Cash: Taking cash to the casino cage of the license holding casino is possible. You can also deposit cash at 7-Eleven stores using PayNearMe.
- 3rd Party Apps: These include PayPal, Skrill and Neteller. These are online wallets, which allow you to load funds and then use them for deposits and withdrawals. You will pay small fees for these apps, though many people enjoy the extra security they provide.
Responsible gambling at Iowa online sportsbooks
Protection for people that may have or develop gambling problems is a key element of regulation and licensing for state sportsbooks. When it comes to the only sports betting sites, the technology allows for extra systems to be put in place.
These include the ability to limit your deposits, bets or time spent on site. They also include optional time-outs (short term) or self-exclusion (longer term).
If you are worried that you or someone you know might have a gambling problem, there are resources to help. These include self-assessment questionnaires and links / phone numbers for local and national assistance charities.
What other forms of online gambling are available in Iowa?
Headlines these days are all about the new sports betting apps and websites. You will find there are some forms of gambling online which are already well established.
Daily Fantasy Sports: Iowa is one of only a handful of states to legalize DFS contests online. With both of the big DFS sites having expanded into full sports betting – they are certain to come to Iowa. DraftKings and FanDuel are expected to launch Daily Fantasy Sports contests alongside their sportsbooks. At the time of writing the details of the rules for this are being worked out with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
Horse Racing Bets: Betting online by accessing the pari-mutuel betting pools has been available around the country for years. This uses ADW (advance deposit wagering) laws, working in the same way as Simulcasts / OTB offices do line. Sites including Bet America and TVG welcome bettors from Iowa.
Wrapping up: A new era for sports betting in Iowa
If you are surprised by just how fast things changed for sports betting fans in Iowa, then you are not the only one. From legislation to retail and online sports betting opportunities in less than 4 months has set a standard other states will aspire to.
Each of the 19 brick and mortar casinos is able to license 2 online betting sites. With 38 books possible, residents of the Hawkeye state will enjoy a lot of choices, a lot of competing bonus options and access to bets on major and minor sporting events.
William Hill and the Elite Sportsbook are already open for business, with many more expected by the end of the year.