Guide to Online Gambling in Iowa: The Best Iowa Gambling Sites for 2020

Gambling in Iowa
Sports Legal Since: 2019
Daily Fantasy Legal Since: 2019
Casino Will Be Legal: TBD
Poker Will Be Legal: TBD
Lottery Will Be Legal: TBD

Iowa Sports Betting

Iowa is following suit with many other states in attempting to legalize sports betting, thanks to the Supreme Court overturning the federal ban in May 2018. In fact, the state had already tabled a bill in February that year to legalize sports betting, though it died in committee. There aren’t any current bills pending, though experts agree that this will soon change. It is understandable that you want to learn more, though, so in case you are really curious, you can give a check to our Iowa sports betting guide.

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Gambling Laws in Iowa

Iowans who like to gamble are in a bit of luck, with many forms of wagering legalized in the state. The first form to be officially allowed by law was pari-mutuel wagers on horse and greyhound racing, which was first legalized in 1983. There are also 19 choices when it comes to actually attending a casino, which are a mixture of riverboat and land-based operations. The laws in Iowa surrounding online gambling do not specifically ban internet gambling by name, but all gambling outside of a licensed venue is prohibited. Therefore, online gambling is considered to be illegal in all forms.

This total ban on gambling outside of licensed venues is total and comprehensive, and therefore applies to placing sports bets online, participating in daily fantasy sports or playing in social poker games with friends. For poker, there are some provisos that allow for risk-free games in social settings.

Casinos in Iowa

The operation of casinos in Iowa has been legal for almost three decades now, and the growth of the industry has followed suit. The state is now home to 19 casinos in a mix between the longstanding riverboat operations and the newer land-based houses. This number also includes the three casinos run by Native American tribes. The amount of options in the state is welcomed by Iowa casino fans, as it is illegal to play online casino games in Iowa.

Iowa Daily Fantasy

Due to the nature of DFS and the fact, this activity is conducted online, and not in a licensed gambling venue, daily fantasy betting in Iowa is illegal. This law is clear cut in Iowa to include this type of wagering, and although Iowans are often able to access websites that offer it, it is important to know that these should be considered ‘black market operations’ and should be avoided.

Poker in Iowa

Playing poker in any one of the casinos in Iowa is welcomed, though that is about as far as the law extends. As with all other forms of gambling in Iowa, it may only take place in a licensed venue. This means that any type of online poker, social gathering or bar-run poker games or tournaments are also not allowed, though there are some provisions that allow the game to be played for fun. Basically, as long as the person who hosts the game doesn’t make a profit, its okay.

Iowa Lottery

The lottery in Iowa has been running since 1985 as a state funding initiative, using the profits to fund local improvements, invest in research and support Iowa veterans. It started with scratch cards, and has since also added state and national lottery options to its repertoire. All tickets must be bought in person at retailers, as no mail or internet tickets can be purchased. For further details, check our comprehensive review of the Iowa lottery.

History of Gambling in Iowa

The 80s and 90s were great decades for gambling legislation in the state of Iowa. Starting with the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act in 1983, the state has continued to pass bills that allow for more and more gambling options. A huge change occurred in 1991, when the state’s first riverboat casino became operational, setting an example for what has now become 19 locations both on and off the water. There hasn’t been nearly as much movement in recent years, with only failing bills to legalize sports betting making headlines.

Iowa Gambling History
1983 The Pari-mutuel Wagering act passes, allowing organizations to apply for a license to take pari-mutuel bets on horse and dog racing.
1984 The first group of licenses are approved for betting locations across the state.
1989 Simulcasting is approved, allowing the Iowan locations to take bets on races being run in other states.
1992 Compacts are signed and three Native American casinos are opened.
1994 24-hour gambling is legalized and the maximum bet of $5 per hand is raised.
2002 The tax on racino slot machines is changed.
2018 A bill is proposed to legalize sports betting, but it is not voted on in the session and does not pass.

Iowa State Facts

Home to the world’s biggest strawberry, Iowans will also find plentiful of the fruit as symbols on the state’s thousands of slot machines. Not just large novelty fruits, Iowans have long set the benchmark for good things through having invented sliced bread. These days, Iowans like to spend their dough in one of the state’s 19 casinos, spending more than $1.6 billion in 2017. Although bread sales have gone down 11% in the last five years, this casino spend is on the rise – up 1.2% from 2016.

Facts About Iowa
Population 3,145,711
Min. Income $1256.67
Biggest Offline Gambling Location Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Gambling Commissioner
Spoken Languages English
Biggest Local Sports Team
Iowa Tax Authority
Link to the State Law
Gambling Winning Tax 5%
State Website Link
Famous Local Gamblers Max Steinberg

Gambling Age in Iowa

Unlike some other states, Iowa has solid consistency in its legal gambling age. For all types of gambling, whether it be for entering casinos, poker rooms, the lottery or betting on horse racing, the legal gambling age is 21. This is fairly easily enforced considering the only legal places to wager are all licensed, with ID-checks preventing underage persons from entering the premises.

  • Online Gambling Age:
    Iowans must be at least 21 to partake in any type of gambling.
  • Alcohol Age
    The legal age for alcohol purchase and consumption in Iowa is 21
  • Weed Age
    Only marijuana use for medical purposes is allowed.

Responsible Gambling and Addiction Prevention

The Iowa Department of Public Health provides the majority of services offered to people who are battling with gambling-related issues in the state. It offers a dedicated selection of resources and services through its Gambling Treatment Program, which includes a live chat online, help line, and support via text message. It doesn’t work with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), which also offers services to all citizens and visitors to the US requiring help or information.

Upcoming Regulation and Expected Changes

The most likely change to the Iowa state gambling laws to occur in the near future is the legalization of sports betting. At this stage, there are no bill currently under observation, as there are some debates on the best ways to move forward. As it will likely need to fall under the current law which states that gambling must take place in a licensed venue, the casinos are claiming that they should be the only ones to allow it. However, the racetracks and racinos could also have a claim to this allowance. What we can be relatively sure of is that there won’t soon be any legal online sports betting.

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