Iowa, an oft-forgotten state in the United States’ Midwest, is a hidden gem for gamblers. Whether it be on a riverboat, on tribal lands, or at one of the state’s many racetracks, there are plenty of ways you can get in on the action as far as live casino play is concerned. Though the state does have some fairly strict penalties for those who do not gamble within the realm of state law, this is seldom a concern seeing as gambling is available in most every corner of the state and everywhere in between.
In this article we strive to not only fill you in on where in Iowa you can gamble, but also the types of gambling you will find and any laws that may be important or interesting.
Ameristar Council Bluffs
Blackbird Bend Casino
Diamond Jo Casino
Diamond Jo Casino—Worth
Grand Falls Casino
Hard Rock Sioux City
Horseshoe Council Bluffs
Isle of Capri
Rhythm City Casino Resort
Riverside Casino & Golf Resort
Lakeside Hotel & Casino
Wild Rose Casino and Resort—Clinton
Wild Rose Casino and Resort—Emmettsburg
Wild Rose Casino and Resort—Jefferson
Tribal/Native American Casinos
As the name of this type of casino implies, tribal casinos are those located on sovereign Native American lands. In most respects, Native Americans are able to govern their lands as they see fit, so even if Iowa law banned casinos there is a good chance Native American casinos would still be able to exist. In Iowa, the casinos that are owned and operated by the tribes are quite similar to the ones you might find in Florida and Arizona.
When it comes down to it, just about any type of gambling can occur at tribal casinos. This includes slots and table games as well as live poker. While some of these sites are standalone casinos, other are full-service casino resorts complete with numerous amenities alongside the actual casino floor.
So long as they are licensed by the state, riverboat casinos can exist in much the same way as tribal casinos. This includes, of course, the number and variety of games that are on offer. While some states may restrict you to only slot play on riverboats, the state of Iowa is fairly lenient in that you will find slots, table games, and live poker on many of the riverboats in the state.
Of course, if you are not near a lake or river, laying claim to riverboat gambling will be something that proves to be difficult.
Though Iowa may not have any standalone casinos, per se, they do have plenty of casinos that exist on the property of a horse or dog racetrack. Like the two aforementioned casino types, racetrack casinos in the state are able to offer a wide variety of different games. Once again, this is only the case so long as the racetrack casino is licensed by the state.
Gambling History of Iowa
The history of Iowa gambling is really negligible up until the early 1990s. In 1991, the state of Iowa passed down a ruling that said, in short, that individual counties are to be tasked with the decision regarding the legality of gambling. So while one county may offer a wide range of gambling opportunities, another county is well within its right to ban those same sites.
Something interesting to note is that if the state (or in the case of Iowa, the county) does not specifically allow for a type of gambling, it is deemed to be illegal. So, for example, if one county explicitly sets forth a mandate that allows slot play and table games, but makes no mention of live poker, any casino offering live poker games is said to be in violation of the law. For this reason, the actual written law governing the legality of casinos in most counties is long, drawn out, and cumbersome.
Another interesting facet of Iowa gambling law is that, unlike other states, Iowa does allow for some gambling games—like poker—to be played in a social setting such as at a firehall or in a private residence. There is a somewhat dated $50 profit rule that makes it illegal for someone to take home winnings that exceed that amount, but small games like those mentioned above are rarely subject to legal scrutiny.
Finally, Iowa is said to be only a short time away from legalizing online casinos like we have seen in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada. Though Native American tribes have so far succeeded in destroying bills in 2012 and 2013, experts believe that Iowa will be the next state to set up an intrastate network of online casinos. All told, the state of Iowa is surprisingly liberal when it comes to gambling. This is despite Iowa regularly being considered a heavily conservative state. As we move ahead into the future the feeling is that things are only going to get better for gamblers living in or visiting the state of Iowa.