Iowa Sports Betting Launches: State Becomes 11th in US with Seven Books Open, William Hill Launches Mobile

Posted on: August 15, 2019, 01:34h. 

Last updated on: August 15, 2019, 04:06h.

ALTOONA, Iowa – On Thursday, Iowa officially became the 11th state in the country to allow sports betting, with seven of the 18 licensed sportsbooks opening across the state. That included the William Hill sportsbook at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. However, the celebration at the track wasn’t just for the retail sportsbook.

An hour before sports betting went live in Iowa, sports fans spent time studying the lines and discussing what they planned to bet at the William Hill sportsbook located inside Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. (Image:

Hundreds of people packed the fourth floor of Prairie Meadows to usher in the new era at the track. Just moments after track, sportsbook, and local officials cut the ribbon, dozens formed a single-file line to set up accounts for online betting. Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill’s US division, said the Andriod version of the company’s mobile app would be ready to take bets by Friday, although the Apple version would be available within a couple weeks.

Located just east of Des Moines, the state capital, Prairie Meadows is one of four Iowa retail locations for the largest sportsbook in the US. William Hill’s other Iowa brick-and-mortar books are at the Isle Casino Bettendorf, Isle Casino Waterloo, and the Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola.

Until January 2021, anyone wanting to bet using the William Hill mobile application will first need to physically register at a retail sportsbook. The same restriction will apply to other mobile applications until that date as well. Bettors will be able to register online for any in-state sports betting application after the mandate sunsets.

Asher said the company had long looked at Iowa as a potential market, even before the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). That decision in May 2018 allowed states nationwide to legalize sports betting, and Iowa’s law was signed in May.

There’s such a great sports culture in Iowa and in the region,” he told the crowd. “Given the gaming industry and its place in Iowa, the support of the legislature, we were always were focused on Iowa and thinking that Iowa would be among the first to legalize sports betting.”

Brian Ohorilko, the administrator for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, said the other retail sportsbooks that opened in Iowa on Thursday were Ameristar Council Bluffs, Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, and Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport.

First in the Midwest

While 10 other states beat Iowa to the market, the state still has some very strategic advantages. For starters, it is the first Midwestern state to open sportsbooks. A fact not lost on people in neighboring states.

When Ameristar Council Bluffs celebrates its grand opening later Thursday afternoon, one of the guests will be Eric Crouch, a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for the University of Nebraska. Council Bluffs sits right across the Missouri River from Omaha, Neb., which has a population of more than 466,000.

Elsewhere, Minnesota state Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) expressed his lament in response to a tweet from the Diamond Jo Casino, which will partner with FanDuel Sportsbook.

Lots of Minnesotans will be heading there in a couple of weeks when football season starts,” he posted. “Smart of Iowa to capitalize on Minnesota government doing nothing…

“Dumb of Minnesota government to do nothing…”

Showing Their Stripes

While others hurried to get in line and set up their mobile accounts, a pair of local state lawmakers made the first sports bets at the track. State Sen. Jack Whitver (R-Arkeny), who started three years as a receiver at Iowa State, placed a bet on his alma mater Cyclones to beat rival Iowa on Sept. 14.

State Sen. Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) showed his intentions well before he even approached the counter. While other VIPs wore suits or coats to the ribbon cutting, Bisignano wore pinstripes.

As in a New York Yankees jersey.

“I want to apologize to my wife,” he told the crowd. “She said that we’re underdressed, and I thought I was coming to a sportsbook. So, I took that very seriously.”

Iowa Sports Betting Details

  • Iowa will levy a 6.75 percent tax on the revenues from the sportsbooks, the same rate as Nevada.
  • In addition to the taxes, the state generates revenue from the $45,000 initial license fee. Annual renewals will cost $10,000.
  • Mobile betting is allowed anywhere within the state. However, until January 2021, anyone wanting to start a mobile account must physically register for one at a retail sportsbook (i.e., someone wanting to bet on the FanDuel app would need to visit the Diamond Jo Casino first). After January 2021, bettors can register directly online.
  • While sportsbooks will take bets on in-state college teams, games involving those squads will not be eligible for in-game or prop betting.
  • The state’s tribal casinos also will be able to offer sports betting at their venues. They, however, are not managed by the IRGC.
  • Only one of Iowa’s licensed 19 casinos, the Casino Queen Marquette, has not applied for a sports betting license.