Iowa, like Tennessee, never seemed like the most likely state to choose to legalize sports betting, but that is exactly what happened this week. Though the bill was passed through the State Senate back in April, Governor Kim Reynolds officially applied her signature to it this week. When bets will officially be able to be accepted has not yet been determined, but we do know that sports betting will be taking place in the state’s 15+ casinos as well as other select locations.
The bill, known as Senate File 617, allows for college and professional sports bets to be placed at any of the state’s casinos that operate a licensed sportsbook. Before this can happen, casinos must submit their applications as well as a $45,000 application fee. In addition to this, there will be a $10,000 renewal fee as well as a 6.5% tax levied against all sports betting revenues. As you might expect, bettors must be at least 21 years of age.
On top of sports betting, the Senate File legalizes and sets forth the parameters for regulation of Daily Fantasy Sports competitions, the likes of which are offered by DraftKings and FanDuel.
The law does allow for betting on college sports—which are arguably more popular in Iowa than professional sports—however it places restrictions on in-game propositions on specific players. In the end, it is believed that sportsbooks will only offer betting on the final result of the game in the form of moneyline, spread, and totals (over/under) betting.
Casinos are already in the process of outfitting their facilities with brand new sportsbooks, even if bets may not be able to be placed until this upcoming fall. According to the Des Moines Register, Prairie Meadows—based in Altoona—has already completely transformed their horse betting floor to accommodate both sports and horse simulcasts. It is expected that most every casino will have begun some sort of renovation process before the spring is through.
The legislation has already become a law, but there are plenty of rules that need to be figured out before betting can actually take place. First and foremost, rather than create a new regulating body, the existent Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will be tasked with creating rules and regulating the sports betting industry in the state. The rules are expected to be drafted quickly and, in an ideal world, implemented by the end of this summer.
Rules will cover topics such as the licensing process itself, how odds will be posted, how players will be paid out, and how problem gambling can be identified and addressed effectively. Though this sounds like a lot, there is widespread belief that we will see bets being placed before the NFL and NCAA football seasons begin.
Online betting will be permissible, but it is believed that those wishing to place sports bets online will have to register in person at a casino before they can create an account. This is done as a means of verifying a player’s age and identity. Some casinos are getting ahead of the game by offering pre-sign up periods so that players can verify their identity and age in advance. This way, they will be able to download an app and place bets the second the state’s network goes live.
As we have seen in many other states, brick and mortar casinos have partnered with preexistent online sports betting brands in order to provide a top-notch service in what will be an expedited fashion. Prairie Meadows, for example, has partnered with sportsbook giant William Hill. Burlington, Iowa’s Catfish Bend Casino signed a partnership with Australian-based PointsBet. This partnership will bring with it a series of renovations and a 5,000 sq. foot sportsbook.
Unlike what we saw in many other states, there was not much opposition to legalized sports betting in Iowa. There was cooperation from both sides of the aisle in order to get this passed. Lawmakers feel that millions in tax dollars are being lost to underground sports betting and traveling across state lines to places where betting has already been established. Eager to boost revenues from taxes, the passing of this legislation seemed like a no-brainer for most.