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Gambling In Iowa: Full Overview 2020

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Online Casino
Online Poker
Online Sports
(legal since: 05/13/2019)
Online Lotto
(planned for: 2020)
Online DFS
(legal since: 05/13/2019)

The state of Iowa is not one that is typically associated with casino gambling, but casinos in Iowa and other forms of wagering in the state give players plenty of options to choose from. With a relatively relaxed stance on the industry from multiple angles, bettors are free to wager to their heart’s content across a large number of disciplines. But what about participation in gambling on the Internet? Is this already possible or do players still have to leave home to enjoy casino, poker and sports betting entertainment?

In this guide to casino gambling in Iowa, find out the answer to the question of are casinos in Iowa legal along with other important information that bettors should know before they get set to place their bets in casinos, sportsbooks, and everything else that is offered.

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Iowa gambling history and social importance

History: Hot and cold

The history of casino gambling in Iowa isn’t exactly full of excitement, but there have been some developments that have made this one of the top states in terms of wagering options. The real start of wagering in Iowa took place in 1985, where the Iowa Lottery first took shape. Eventually, new games like the Mega Millions and Powerball joined the in-state exclusive options that were available through the state lottery.

In 1991, things really took off in Iowa with the start of the new casino industry being legalized in the form of riverboat casinos. The number of new casinos that were a part of that legalization started at four, and grew into over 20 new physical locations for bettors to wager. In the 2010s, new attempts to legislate online casino and poker play were initiated, but didn’t go anywhere, leading to the current online wagering climate.

Social importance: An open minded place

For Iowa, the social importance of casino gambling is twofold. First, it helps solidify Iowa’s identity as a state that is open to trying new ideas. Gambling has long been considered to be taboo in America, with a lot of prohibition of wagering throughout the country at different times. But Iowa has done a nice job of legalizing different forms of casino betting throughout its history ahead of the timeline of many states. That has made it so that bettors can confidently say that this is a place that has options that are often far superior to states that are often thought of as more progressive.

In addition to forming an identity as a state that isn’t afraid to think ahead, casino gambling also helps to make Iowa a place that has plenty to offer to people around the country. In addition to a strong selection of college sports and education options, the presence of a large number of things to bet on only adds to the things that Iowans can point to and take pride in.


Legal situation of casinos and online casinos in Iowa 2020

Land-based casinos: Lots of casinos

Land-based casinos in Iowa City don’t exist yet, but there are still plenty to enjoy throughout the rest of Iowa. There are 23 land-based casinos located throughout Iowa, where players can take part in a number of different game types. The start of the land-based casino action that has taken place in Iowa was in 1991, when riverboat casinos were made permissible. Since then, the industry has continued to grow both on land and on water, with both Native American and non-Native American entities taking casinos across the state in large amounts. There were 24 land-based casinos in Iowa at one point, before one such facility closed to bring the number to its current total. Here is a list of some of the key casinos hosted in Iowa, with the key casino cities of Dubuque and Sioux City being well represented.

  • Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs
  • Wild Rose Casino and Resort
  • Prairie Flower Casino
  • Riverside Casino and Golf Resort

Legal situation for land-based casinos: No legal hurdles left

Casinos in Iowa haven’t been around for too long, but they have grown quite a bit in the amount of time that they have been permitted. 1991 was the year that casino wagering on machines was made legal, with riverboat casino gambling being made possible on three different vessels when wagering machines were first made legal. A fourth riverboat wagering facility appeared a month later to make four riverboats to bet on. Since then, 20 other casino facilities opened up in the state over time, with one of them shutting down to bring Iowa to the total of 23 casinos that it stands at now.

Online casinos: Flexible by accident

Right now, there are no online casinos that are based out of Iowa. That is an interesting thing to note, given that online casino action is taking place in more and more states through sites that are licensed through the brick and mortar casinos that exist in each area. Iowa, though, has taken a different approach to online casino betting. Instead of putting players in a position where they can wager on casino games and casino machines through their own state-endorsed platforms, players can instead take to various offshore sites to do so thanks to the relative lack of regulation put into online casino machines play there.

Legal situation for online casinos: Offshore only

Iowa online casino action is in an interesting position currently. There is nothing that explicitly makes any online casino Iowa residents want to use legal, but there is nothing stated that makes it illegal either. Instead, players are simply free to do their casino gambling in Iowa wherever they please despite the fact that there isn’t an Iowa online casino that they can go to. Instead, offshore and other non-US based wagering sites are permitted for use in the state. As of now, there does not appear to be any plan to add any additional regulation to that type of gaming.

Market prediction for the future

In terms of using an online casino Iowa residents currently have all of the choices that they need. In addition to casinos in Iowa that have sports betting and casino gaming action, players can use any offshore casino that they want to enjoy gaming in that form. There doesn’t seem to be any plans to change the way that Iowa is currently set up with its wagering both online and at physical locations from a casino point of view. Therefore, there is no reason to predict that there will be any sort of change in the near or distant future.

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Legal situation of sports betting and online betting in Iowa 2020

Land-based betting operators/racetracks: Bettors can bet

Betting on sports in Iowa is one of the things that has seen some forward progress recently, which has given bettors the ability to wager on the events that they are interested in. For casinos in Iowa sports betting is rolling out thanks to the fact that it was made legal in the state formally in May of 2019. There are four land-based sports betting operators that work in Iowa. While it isn’t clear as to whether or not that number will increase in the future, the fact that Iowans have a brick and mortar option to place their sports wagers is an exciting prospect.

Legal situation for land-based betting operators/racetracks: Legal in person action

Gambling in Iowa includes answering the question is sports betting in Iowa legal? The answer to that question as of right now is yes, thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 617 that was passed in May of 2019. That legislation allowed for sports betting to take place both in person and online. For land-based operators, this gave bookmakers the ability to pursue licenses to offer sports wagering. So far, there are four land-based operators that have sports betting services up for grabs. Those locations are where the bulk of licensed sports bets in the state take place.

OperatorLandbased Partner
PointsBetMeadowlands Racing & Entertainment

Online sports betting: One company, several choices

Betting online on sports is typically the most convenient sports wagering option, as bettors have the ability to place their wagers on events on a quicker turnaround than they can by having to go to a physical location. In Iowa, there are a few different options for online sports wagering operators, all of whom utilize William Hill’s software to offer action to the masses. The different physical casino operators that offer sports betting have online wagering through William Hill, with that setup working similarly to the online sports betting options in other states.

Legal situation for betting sites: Newly allowed

When it comes to online gambling Iowa can wager on sports online as of May 2019. That was the work of Senate Bill 617, which legalized both online and in person sports wagering throughout the state. With the recent wave of legalization throughout the United States, Iowa got involved just as the surge in states that were making wagering legal began to really increase. Thanks to that decision by the legislature, bettors can now wager online at a number of different locations, although there wasn’t anything that specifically prohibited offshore wagering previously either.

Market prediction for the future

In terms of the future of wagering on sports in Iowa, there is likely to be continued growth throughout the state. In terms of regulated sports wagering options, it is likely that there will be more casinos that offer it for land-based consumers, as well as more providers that may work their way into the online space at some point. With William Hill having something of a monopoly on the online sports betting space in Iowa during the early days of legalization, it will be intriguing to see if other providers will jump into the fray sooner than later to become a part of the equation to give more choices to Iowans.

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Legal situation of poker rooms and online poker in Iowa 2020

Land-based poker rooms: Plenty of poker

The land-based poker situation in Iowa is pretty robust compared to many states, with there being a whole 10 casino poker rooms to be found. When it comes to land-based poker, having options in terms of what casino poker games can be played and what stake levels are up for grabs is important, and Iowa seems to have its poker players covered with some options in that vein. With 10 poker rooms strewn throughout a relatively small state, it should be pretty easy for poker enthusiasts to get their chips in regardless of the player’s location in Iowa.

Legal situation for land-based poker rooms: From water to land

When it comes to land-based casino poker, the start of that action in Iowa came with the start of the casino industry taking off. That took place in 1991, when riverboat casinos were first introduced as legally permissible entities in the state. Since then, Iowa has seen plenty of casinos sprout up, with racetrack casinos, riverboat casinos, Native American properties, and other land-based properties all making themselves options for poker players and other kinds of casino bettors. These options have come together to form a nice suite of poker playing choices for those who want to shuffle up and deal.

Online poker: Legal gray area

The online gambling Iowa offers doesn’t explicitly include online casino poker. However, it doesn’t completely ban online poker either. There are a number of offshore casino sites that players from Iowa can take part in to play poker, which gives Iowans a nice number of choices when they look to play cards virtually. The only caveat there is the fact that those offshore sites have to accept players from the United States and players from Iowa. Outside of that, players from Iowa are largely free to do whatever they choose when it comes to playing poker online, which fits in with their agreeable laws across the casino gambling world.

Legal situation for online poker: Unconventional options

As far as the legal situation for online poker goes, there really isn’t much of a legal situation to speak of. Online poker isn’t illegal in the state of Iowa, at least according to any specific statute. There is also nothing written into law to make it legal. Instead, online poker exists in something of a legal gray area, where players are free to take to the offshore poker sites of their choosing without any sort of issues legally speaking. As long as a site accepts players from America, people in Iowa are free to register and take part in whatever those sites have to offer.

Market prediction for the future

Looking ahead, there isn’t anything that would suggest that the poker market in Iowa is set to change anytime soon. It doesn’t look like Iowa is going to attempt to regulate its online poker market, which is the area that would be in the biggest need of updating. Instead, it looks like Iowa is going to be content to allow offshore poker to take place without issue, and for the poker rooms that currently exist to keep operating. For bettors who like having options around the world to play their poker, this might not be a bad thing at all.

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Legal situation of lotteries and online lottery in Iowa 2020

As of right now, people in Iowa can take part in lottery so long as it is done offline through the state lottery. This takes place through the Iowa Lottery, which is the state’s provider. As of right now, there is nothing to make online lotteries legal, although it is possible that online lottery action could come to the state over the next couple of years. Iowa is a part of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which could see them do more with their lottery offerings in the years to come. For now, however, the lottery action that people in Iowa can get involved in is pretty limited and isn’t any more special than what many states have to offer. Given that Iowa is one of the more progressive casino gambling states around, that is a somewhat surprising development. It is worth keeping an eye on whether or not that situation changes in the near future.

Legal situation of daily fantasy sports in Iowa 2020

Daily fantasy sports is one of the fastest growing forms of wagering in the United States. And in terms of answering the question “is DFS legal in Iowa” the answer to this point is a resounding yes. Just like the rest of the sports betting situation in Iowa, Senate Bill 617 made daily fantasy sports legal in May of 2019. As a result, players can take part in daily fantasy games from some of the biggest names in that industry. Included in that list are providers such as FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as Yahoo and FantasyDraft. Having a relatively strong list of daily fantasy sports sites that bettors can choose from has made Iowa a strong state for DFS players. However, given the relatively young state of legal daily fantasy sports in Iowa, one should expect that it is possible for other providers to offer action in this area in the years to come.

Iowa Gambling

Legal situation of social casino in Iowa 2020

Social casino action is something that is gaining in popularity, as players are free to take part in games through social media sites that resemble casino games. These can include slot machines, table games, and even poker through providers such as WSOP. These games don’t require players to put any sort of financial investment into the action, and as a result aren’t really gambling in the sense that real money wagering is. As a result, there is nothing that has made social casino gaming illegal in the state. And given Iowa’s laid back approach to traditional online casino wagering, it is likely that there would be nothing to make it illegal even if there was real money involved. For now, social casino gaming enthusiasts don’t have to worry about their games being made illegal for any reason.

Conclusion: A progressive wagering state

Iowa isn’t a state that is typically thought of as one that is ahead of the curve socially, but Iowa is one of the real leaders in the wagering space relative to the other 49 states out there. Players who want to take part in casino action can do so both online and in land-based casinos. Those who want to wager on sports can do so both online and in casinos. And those who want to take part in poker action can do the same thing. There are lottery and daily fantasy sports options available as well, with bettors having no shortage of choices with which to do their wagering, especially when compared to the options that are available elsewhere in the country. Don’t miss your chance to have fun with casino betting in Iowa. Check out the offers that are available in the state to get started today.

Gambling typeLegal status
Land-based casinosCasino, poker, and sports betting
Online gamblingUnregulated, sports fully legalized
Sports bettingLand-based and online
LotteryOffline only
Daily fantasy sportsLegal
Minimum gambling age21