An Overview of Gambling in Iowa

Residents in Iowa have plenty of avenues to go down when it comes to online gambling these days, especially when you take sports betting into account. The state has seen impressive growth in the gambling sector over recent years, and although online casinos are currently prohibited, we may yet see a positive change in that department.

Perhaps Iowa is a little underestimated in terms of its online betting options. The Hawkeye State welcomed online sportsbooks in 2019 and offers a wide range of land-based casino action, with some sweepstakes sites also readily available.

Iowa is actually quite a gambling-friendly state. In many ways, it’s taken online and land-based gambling onboard better than many others places in the US. Considering its forays in and out of the betting scene, it’s not surprising to see lawmakers finally decide that betting has a meaningful place in Iowa’s culture.

Today, bettors can visit a vast array of online sportsbooks and wager on their favorite events. This includes soccer, NHL, NFL, NBA, and many others. Moreover, betting on horse races is also allowed in Iowa, making the state a full-fledged sports betting provider.

However, the same can’t be said for online casinos. Unfortunately, Iowa is yet to legalize online casino gaming for real money and as a result, users interested in playing slots must visit any of the three sweepstakes sites.

Online poker is also restricted by the law in IA. So, if you’re eager to indulge in the popular card game, you’ll need to head to a land-based casino. This is similar to the way in which Iowa’s state lottery is run, as participants cannot purchase tickets online for the time being - although a downloadable app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Gambling Laws in Iowa

Following and understanding the various rules and regulations relating to gambling in Iowa can be a difficult task. With some laws vague in their wording, and others contradicting one another, it’s easy to get lost in the fog.

We’re here to help guide our readers through each of Iowa’s gambling laws - both for online and offline services - in an easily digestible way.

What Are Iowa’s Laws on Gambling?

The first thing we should note about Iowa’s gambling laws is that they’re subject to change at any time, as was made clear by the fall of PASPA in 2018. It’s also important to understand what Iowa lawmakers are referring to when they mention gambling in their rulebook.

Gambling is defined as participating in a game of value or making a bet, as per Iowa law. Obviously, this is an incredibly broad, vague statement, leaving much of its conclusion up to whoever reads it.

Specifically, online gambling (excluding sports and horse racing) is banned in IA. The Hawkeye State prohibits anyone present in the state’s borders from placing a wager via the internet at an online casino or in a virtual poker room.

Despite an app for the state lottery being made available in recent years, its sole purpose is to supply information. Playing lottery games and buying lottery tickets is not possible via the app. Of course, anyone interested in playing the state lottery can do so by visiting their local store and purchasing a ticket. In that sense, nothing has changed since the lotteries’ inception in 1985.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Sports betting is legal in the state, along with horse racing wagering. Additionally, bettors can play DFS, otherwise known as Daily Fantasy Sports, without breaking the law. DFS was made legal in 2019.

The Governing Body of Gambling in Iowa

The body providing oversight on everything gambling-related in Iowa is known as the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Started in 1983, the Commission remains the sole overseer of gambling activities in the state.

Depending on the Governor in charge, the members of the IRGC will change over time. This is because all five commissioners are personally selected by the governor to carry out this arduous job, while restrictions on how long someone can maintain their position in the commission limits members to just three years on the board.

Primarily, the IRGC seeks to create a fairer, more accessible gambling industry for everybody in Iowa. The commission is tasked with not only handing out licenses to operators they deem capable but also revoking said licenses should the operator in question break the trust between themselves and the commission.

If online casinos are to be put in place in IA, it’s probable that the IRGC will also license and regulate those platforms too.

Comparing Offshore Operators and Domestic Legal Operators

With online casino sites banned from Iowa, it’s no surprise to see opportunistic offshore sites jump as the chance to garner more customers by taking advantage of the state’s residents.

These illegal, offshore platforms often advertise themselves as being fair, legal, and fun. In reality, offshore sites are dangerous and have no obligation to provide fair games or odds. This is due to the lack of US regulation when it comes to evaluating these offshore online casinos and sportsbooks.

The IRGC ensures that every online sportsbook in the state serves customers in the best possible manner. This means providing impeccable customer support, fair features, and protecting users from potential harm.

Offshore sites have no such obligations. If they wish, offshore casinos can sell information to criminals or simply leave their software open to hackers. More than that, the site could willingly and knowingly publish unfair and rigged games. Essentially, offshore sites can steal players’ money and there’s nothing customers can do about it.

That’s why it’s best to remain patient. Although the lack of movement in Iowa with regard to online casinos can be frustrating, it doesn’t come close to the danger posed by playing at offshore sites. For now, bettors should head to their nearest land-based IA casino or sign up with one of the many online bookmakers in the state instead.

Iowa’s Most Popular Gambling Categories - How To Play

The state of Iowa boasts a wide range of exciting betting options, not least it's land-based casinos and online sportsbooks. Sometimes, it can be difficult to figure out what’s allowed and what isn’t.

Moreover, users might run into issues upon searching for a legal online casino in IA due to the sheer number of offshore, illegal operators.

Now, we’re going to break down the details regarding every gambling category in Iowa.

Sports Betting in Iowa

Once Senate File 617 was passed into law, wagering on sports in Iowa was legalized. Under this bill, Iowa casinos can register for a sportsbook license.

Just three months after the passing of this proposal, bettors in Iowa were able to visit their local casino or online sports betting site and take a punt on sports events across the globe. For the initial 18 months, it was required that all registrations be taken in person at the casino itself, even if the customers solely wanted to bet online.

Due to the difficulties proposed by 2020 and restrictions to the way in which bettors could set their accounts up, Iowan sportsbooks struggled to get off the mark as quickly as they would have liked. It wasn’t until 2021 that things really began taking off.

Now, users in Iowa can join William Hill, FanDuel, BetMGM, and others. Thankfully, customers are finally free to register via their mobile devices rather than needing to visit a retail venue. It’s worth remembering that events that include minors, as well as collegiate events, are not allowed to be bet on.

DraftKings Sportsbook IA

Having landed in Iowa back in February of 2020, DraftKings has enjoyed plenty of success so far. By partnering with Wild Rose Casino & Resorts, the sportsbook was able to begin operations in IA and has since become most bettors’ go-to option for sports betting.

Now with a downloadable app that’s fully integrated with the desktop site, users can switch from the browser version of the platform to their application in a matter of seconds. This opens the door for betting on the go, ensuring that DraftKings remains at the forefront of Iowa’s sports betting scene.

William Hill Sportsbook IA

The UK native sportsbook arrived on the scene almost immediately after the launch of legal sports betting in Iowa, and it’s been rewarded with masses of customers signing in daily. In recent months, William Hill has garnered more revenue than any other sportsbook active in the state today, and we can’t say we’re surprised.

Packed to the brim with a bunch of thrilling features, live odds, easy deposits, withdrawals, and other cool extras - William Hill has it all. To top it all off, users will see a wide array of the best European sports action alongside some of America’s finest events.

FanDuel Sportsbook IA

Commonly considered one of the most impressive DFS sites, FanDuel does much more than just providing Daily Fantasy Sports services. After forming a partnership with Boyd Gaming, FanDuel entered the IA sports betting market in mid-2020 to join the likes of William Hill as one of the first adopters.

Parlays are easy to create, particularly through the mobile app on iOS and Android. By downloading FanDuel’s handy application, users are assuring that betting on the move will be easy as can be. On top of that, FanDuel has allowed customers to quickly switch between the mobile app and desktop site, helping to keep everything moving seamlessly.

BetMGM Sportsbook IA

Easily one of the most popular casinos and sportsbooks in the entire country, BetMGM made its way to Iowa in early 2021. In doing so, it signed a deal with Diamond Jo Casino. In the months since its grand opening, BetMGM has proven itself to no end.

The incredible number of tremendous sports odds available on the app makes it an easy destination for anyone that loves sports. Not just that, but BetMGM also serves up some fantastic bonuses throughout the year. To get started, users simply need to deposit using any of the permitted payment methods, like PayPal. Once that’s done, the entire site will be at the customer’s disposal.

Betfred Sportsbook IA

Another online sportsbook that began its journey solely as a UK operator, Betfred joined the Iowa market in September 2020. The bookie put pen to paper on a partnership with Elite Casino Resorts, which allowed the UK giant to begin onboarding customers soon after.

To use the site, users can check out Betfred from their mobile devices - both iOS and Android. The site blends into mobile browsers like Chrome or Safari with ease, with the platform feeling much like an app. If playing on a desktop is more appealing, Betfred offers a thorough, easily accessible website that can be used by pretty much anyone.

PointsBet IA

The third sportsbook to arrive in Iowa that was originally formed in a different nation, PointsBet joined forces with Catfish Bend Casino upon its start-up in Iowa. Launching in November 2019 was perhaps the best possible time to join the market for PointsBet, as it gave customers the opportunity to try out something new once the novelty of the first sportsbooks wore off.

PointsBet is always on the lookout for new ways to reward newly registered customers and existing users alike, with plenty of bonuses on the table each month. Add the range of brilliant markets on show, and it’s easy to understand why PointsBet has become so popular in Iowa.

BetRivers Sportsbook IA

By planting its seeds in IA in 2020, BetRivers immediately became one of the most popular destinations for bettors of all tastes. Their deal with Wild Rose Entertainment provided the sportsbook with the chance to open its doors to customers, and ever since it’s gone from strength to strength.

Admittedly, BetRivers doesn’t quite have the pulling power of some other sportsbooks we’ve mentioned. However, that doesn’t take away from the sensational offers and markets found on the platform.

Available on iOS and Android, BetRivers overflows with unique, fascinating ways to wager. These include soccer, basketball, baseball, and more - each of which can have parlays, over/unders, and more available used to bet.

Online Casino in Iowa

Online casino gaming is somewhat restricted in Iowa. Real money online casino sites are prohibited from the state, but sweepstakes sites are permitted to operate so long as players aren’t required to play with actual cash.

For the time being, users should check out the likes of Chumba Casino, Funzpoints, or Luckyland Slots. If real money online casinos become legal in the Hawkeye State, we’ll be the first to let you know.

Chumba Casino IA

Arguably the best place to play for anyone interested in online casino gaming in Iowa, Chumba Casino is packed with tonnes of exciting slots and table games. The best part is that customers don’t need to deposit money to play as the site is a sweepstakes platform.

Opportunities to win are rife, with jackpots held consistently. These draws could see users win real money, as Sweeps Coins can be exchanged for cash prizes.

Currently, Chumba Casino has around 70 titles in its entire library. While this might not seem like much compared to its real-money counterparts, it’s a majorly impressive amount for a sweepstakes platform.

Luckyland Slots IA

Similar to Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots has a neat range of fun games. All of these are available free of charge, as is always the case with sweepstakes sites, and can be played by anybody of legal gambling age in Iowa.

As you can probably tell by the name of the site, its primary goal is to provide the best possible slots to its customers. Again, Sweeps Coins are up for grabs at Luckyland Slots and they work in exactly the same way as they do at Chumba Casino.

With tournaments held regularly, there are more than enough opportunities to be a winner without depositing a penny into your account wallet. If you’d rather stick to slots, there are around 30 to choose from at the site.

Funzpoints IA

A sweepstakes site with mightily impressive payout percentages, Funzpoints is a hybrid site. This is because it combines real money games and sweeps games into one place, although the real money games won’t be available to customers in Iowa.

Instead, IA users can spin the Funzwheel once every three hours to try their hand at bagging the sites’ jackpot. For those that are brand new to online casino gaming, Funzpoints may well be the perfect entry point. If you’re on the hunt for something a bit more in-depth, we recommend checking out Chumba or Luckyland Slots.

Poker in Iowa

Much like the situation with online casinos, online poker is also restricted to a certain degree. Following the infamous Black Friday debacle that saw many online poker rooms forced out of business in the US, we’re only now beginning to see a less hostile attitude towards the game in its virtual form.

Of course, avid poker players may visit their local poker room situated inside a casino. To indulge in poker action via the internet, users will need to try out Global Poker.

Global Poker is a fun sweepstakes site that supplies users with the same rules and features of real money poker, except it’s played for Sweeps Coins instead. Bettors must be 21 or older when visiting an in-house poker room, as this is the minimum gambling age in Iowa.

Lottery in Iowa

The state lottery has been in operation since the 1980s in Iowa, with millions of participants getting in on the fun consistently. There are plenty of jackpots to be won, like Mega Millions, scratch games, Powerball, and the lottery itself.

Since its inception, the Iowa state lottery has been responsible for over $2billion going to important and helpful charities and causes. The proceeds from the lottery go toward supporting veterans, firefighters, and improving the state as a whole.

To play, bettors must be 21. Added to that, anyone interested in partaking should head to a store and purchase a ticket. Despite an app being available for iOS and Android, its only purpose is to display information. The fact that an app is readily available may be a sign of things to come, though.

Bingo in Iowa

Bingo is illegal in Iowa, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering the way it’s treated in the rest of the US. A game of chance, bingo really is its own worst enemy when it comes to being allowed in casinos as such entertainment is strictly prohibited by law.

However, there are rare instances where bingo is permitted to be played in Iowa. One example of legal bingo is when it is played for charity, and in order to obtain the right to host a charitable bingo night, the operator must request a bingo license. These licenses come in two forms: 14-day licenses (limited licenses) and two-year licenses.

As an added layer of frustration for bingo lovers, hosts cannot hold more than 14 bingo sessions per month. This means that, for most of the year, operators can only welcome bingo players for around half a month. This rule does not apply to senior citizen games.

Horse Racing in Iowa

Wagering on the outcome of horse races is well and truly instilled into Iowa’s gambling culture. The hobby goes back decades in the state, and although its popularity has stalled over recent years, it remains a stalwart in the sports betting industry.

Prairie Meadows hosts horse racing events throughout the year. The track doubles up as a casino, offering thousands of slot machines and table games on top of its excellent racing services. The racetrack also boasts OTB areas, where bettors are able to wager on events taking place across the country and watch them unfold in real-time.

Unlike some other states, the minimum age for gambling on horse races is 21 in IA. This is in contrast to the 18-year-old age limit commonly seen for horse racing in other parts of the country.

Bettors can visit the following to bet on horse races in Iowa:

  • William Hill
  • BetMGM
  • Any OTB in the state
  • Prairie Meadows
  • And many more!

FAQs

Is online gambling in Iowa?

Yes, online gambling is currently available in Iowa. Right now, bettors can wager at sports betting sites, bet on horse races, or play at Sweepstakes casinos.

When did online gambling become legal in Iowa?

Online sports betting was legalized in Iowa in 2019 and launched in August of that year.

What is the legal gambling age in Iowa?

The minimum legal gambling age in Iowa is 21 years old.

Who regulates gambling in Iowa?

A regulatory body known as the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission provides all oversight for gambling in the Hawkeye State.

What forms of gambling are allowed in Iowa?

Today, bettors in Iowa can play at retail casinos, wager online at sports betting sites, bet on horse races, and participate in the state lottery.

Robert Miller

Robert Miller

Robert is responsible for all content on BettingGuide US. Robert previously worked as a poker dealer during his college years at MIT where he studied Computational Science and Engineering. With a great interest in gambling, Robert likes to go in-depth when writing so that you can make a wiser choice when choosing an operator.

Last updated: 9/7/2021