Iowa Sportsbooks Get Green Light to Launch Operations on Aug. 15, IRGC Approves 18 Casinos for Licenses

Posted on: July 30, 2019, 06:21h. 

Last updated on: July 30, 2019, 08:59h.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt the sports betting regulations developed by the regulatory body’s staff, meaning the state’s casinos will be able to launch their sports betting operations on Aug. 15.

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko said Tuesday that he expects most of the 18 retail sportsbooks approved by the IRGC to be ready to open on Aug. 15, the first day they can take bets in the state. (Image:

In addition, during the special called meeting in West Des Moines, the commissioners approved sports betting licenses for all 18 casinos that sought them. That means all but one of the venues the IGRC oversees – the Casino Queen in Marquette being the exception – will be able to set up sportsbooks in the casino and offer an online platform as well.

The state also features three tribal casinos, whose state compacts will allow them to also offer sports betting provided it’s allowed by tribal ordinance. The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals oversees the tribal gaming venues.

Each casino paid a $45,000 fee to apply for the license. Future renewals will cost $10,000 annually. The state will levy a 6.75 percent tax on each sportsbook’s adjusted gross revenue. That percentage matches Nevada’s rate for the lowest among the states that have legalized sports betting.

The law allows Iowa sportsbooks to offer betting opportunities on both professional and collegiate sports. In-state collegiate teams and events are eligible for advanced better, but in-game wagering on in-state college athletes or their opponents is prohibited.

Iowa will become the 11th state to offer sports betting, joining Nevada, Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. Indiana is scheduled to follow suit, likely in September.

Who Will Launch on Aug. 15?

The gaming companies had pressed the IRGC to get everything in place for an August launch in order for them to offer action on college and pro football, the most popular sports for US bettors.

Shortly after the commission’s meeting, Prairie Meadows tweeted that its sportsbook, which will be run by William Hill, would open at noon on Aug. 15.

Other sportsbooks didn’t commit on an exact opening date.

“We are excited by today’s news in Iowa and look forward to ultimately making an impact for fans in the state as we prepare for a mid-August launch with our partner Catfish Bend Casino,” Rick Martira, PointsBet’s chief marketing officer, told

FanDuel, which the commission approved on Tuesday as an out-of-state partner for two Diamond Jo casinos, also declined to give an official launch date for its Iowa books.

Brian Ohorilko, the IRGC’s administrator, told that he doesn’t expect all 18 sportsbooks to open on the first day. However, he thinks the majority will be ready by then.

“What is maybe more questionable will be how many will be ready with their mobile partners and their mobile platforms,” he said. “I think a lower percentage will be ready on the 15th for that part.”

Even if mobile applications, which in other states have been rolled out at a much later than the retail sportsbooks, are online by mid-August, those wanting to create online accounts will still need to visit the participating casino to create their account. That’s because of the way legislators drafted the sports betting law.

The registration mandate is good until Jan. 1, 2021. After that date, bettors will be free to register for an online account directly through their mobile device or computer.

Prep Work Started Last Year

Iowa state lawmakers introduced sports betting bills in the legislature back in February, and the final version passed both the House and Senate two months later. On May 13, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law.

That means state officials will have drawn up, reviewed, and passed regulations, as well as approved licenses, within a 95-day span.

Ohorilko said he’s heard from people who have asked if the process has been going too fast. He understands their point of view, but he told that while officials have been busy lately, a lot of the prep work started when the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018.

We didn’t know if sports (betting) would be authorized this year, five years from now, or ever, but it was important to be prepared,” he said. “And that has definitely proven to be one of the reasons why we’ve been able to get this done so quickly.”

He noted that IRGC staff members connected with officials in other states. They also conducted research on sports betting matters. Another thing that helped was the professional but cordial relationships between regulators and the casinos. That allowed them to address and resolve some issues quickly.

What also helped was the fact that sports betting has now been legal across the country for more than a year.

“This is a situation where the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is not creating something from scratch,” he said. “We’ve had the ability to look at a number of other jurisdictions that have gone first. We’ve been able to understand what is working well and what hasn’t. Many of the things within our regs, or some of the ideas or concepts, they’re not original ideas. They’re things that have worked well in other states.

“Yes, things are moving quickly, but there’s at least precedent for a lot of the decisions that have been made here in this state.”