There is a plethora of ways to gamble in Iowa, and while the penalties for breaking the rather stringent rules are severe, there is still plenty of freedom for bettors to enjoy. You can play your favorite games at the land-based casinos either on state soil or tribal land, or hop aboard the riverboat casinos that accept wagers. You can also bet on the horses and play the state-run lotteries. Charitable gaming is also encouraged— as long as organizers stick to the rules, of course.
Compared with other states, Iowa is fairly relaxed when it comes to gambling. As ever, online gambling in Iowa remains a complex topic, with the wording of the law relating to wagers outside licensed premises perhaps putting an end to such hopes. But if the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is anything to go by, Iowa online gambling might not be the impossibility in the future it appears to be on paper.
The most promising developing news is on that front is that sports betting could become a reality in the state as soon as 2019, with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the federal ban sports betting in May 2018 coming a week after Iowa's legislative session ended for the year and lawmakers in Des Moines warming up to the prospect. Lawmakers have again taken up bills in 2019, and there's more optimism than ever the Hawkeye State could take a legal wager.
It remains to be seen if that will include online betting options, but Iowa is trending closer than ever toward that direction.
Right now, there doesn’t appear to be any legislative demand to legalize online casinos in Iowa. The law expressly prohibits wagering in any fashion outside licensed venues, be they casinos or racetracks. So while there isn’t a statute that explicitly bans online gambling, the underlying assumption of the law is that it would be illegal to operate Iowa online casinos and certainly illegal to place a bet with one.
The law relating to online poker in Iowa is the same as that which governs online wagering of any sort: bets are not to be placed on the internet, end of discussion.
There have been bills written supporting Iowa online poker, but none have ever made it successfully past the voting stage. The good news is that you can play a few hands at any of the casino venues in the state, while social games in the home are allowed if stakes are kept small and the host does not take a profit from the action.
The situation regarding sports betting in Iowa is the same as many states across the country: you can’t bet right now, but things might be about to change for the better.
New Jersey and West Virginia are among the states paving the way for other states to get involved, and according to reports, there is a specific bill, HF 2448, that has been drawn up in time for the 2019 legislative session. This would legalize Iowa sports betting at casinos, racetracks and other so-called gambling structures.