Online sports betting is thriving in Iowa, however real-money online casinos are still forbidden.
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Online gambling in Iowa is perfectly legal for sports betting. But online casinos in Iowa are off limits. There are safe alternative options, however, in sweepstakes casinos. These social casinos don’t require any deposit and are completely free to play.
Social casino users sign up and receive a set number of tokens or sweeps coins in their accounts. They can use these to play online slot machines and table games. They can even win real money or prizes with sweeps coins, which can be used for tournaments or casino play. They technically count as a sweepstakes rather than gambling since the user doesn’t risk any money, which means they’re perfectly legal in Iowa.
Sweepstakes casinos are the best way for Iowa casino players to enjoy their favorite games without any of the hassle or risk of using offshore casino sites.
There hasn’t been any large legislative push for real-money online casinos after the state’s efforts to roll out legal online sports gambling. Online poker also remains illegal in Iowa, and movements to regulate these industries don’t have much momentum at the time. But once legal sports betting takes root and Iowa has a firm grasp on its new industry, it stands to reason there could be a push for real-money casino and poker sites in the next few years.
Iowa gambling laws haven't been updated to allow real-money online casino sites within the state. However, there is a legal loophole. Thanks to a longstanding federal law, states can offer certain types of draw game. The main caveat is no purchase should be necessary to enter a draw. That might seem like an impossible obstacle to overcome but it's not, as we'll explain in the following section.
As we've said, a federal law means that all US states (except Washington) can offer sweepstakes games. The creative minds at companies such as LuckyLand and Chumba have used this to create sweepstakes casino sites. These sites can be regarded as Iowa online casinos because you can play slots, video poker, blackjack, and roulette. In fact, when you add Global Poker to the mix, you'll have the ability to play Hold'em and Omaha as well.
These Iowa online casino sites look like BetMGM et al from the outside, but they're different on the inside. They're different because you don't make deposits. Instead, you buy onsite tokens, typically known as sweeps. These tokens can be used to play draw-style games (i.e. a game with a random result) where the prizes you win are paid out in tokens.
To comply with federal sweepstakes laws, these IA apps can't demand that you pay to play. In other words, they have to give you free tokens. So, as well as purchasing sweeps, you'll be given some for free. Therefore, you don't have to make a deposit and you don't have to pay to play. However, you can win tokens that can be converted to cash or prizes.
This set-up ensures sweeps casinos are legal when it comes to federal laws and Iowa gambling online. It also ensures that you get to play casino games and have the chance to win prizes by purchasing onsite tokens or not, whatever the case may be. Finally, sweepstake online casinos are open to anyone aged 18 or older. That means you can play slots et al for free before Iowa online gambling laws allow real-money casino sites.
Finally, in addition to sweepstakes casinos, Iowans can use social sites aka free-play casinos. For example, Harrah's Council Bluffs and Horseshoe Council Bluff offer social casino sites. These are online casinos where you don't have buy tokens or make deposits because the credits you use/win don't have any real-world value.
|Casino||City||Address||Hours of Operation|
|Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs||Council Bluffs||2200 River Rd||8 a.m.-3 a.m.|
|Blackbird Bend Casino||Onawa||17214 210th St||8 a.m.-2 a.m.|
|Casino Queen Marquette||Marquette||100 Anti Monopoly||9 a.m.-2 a.m.|
|Catfish Bend Casino||Burlington||3001 Winegard Dr||10 a.m.-2 a.m.|
|Diamond Jo Worth Casino||Northwood||777 Diamond Jo Ln||8 a.m.-3 a.m.|
|Grand Falls Casino||Larchwood||1415 Grand Falls Blvd||Open 24 hours|
|Hard Rock Sioux City||Sioux City||111 3rd St||Open 24 hours|
|Harrah’s Council Bluffs||Council Bluffs||1 Harrah’s Blvd||Open 24 hours|
|Horseshoe Council Bluffs||Council Bluffs||2701 23rd Ave||Open 24 hours|
|Isle Casino Bettendorf||Bettendorf||1777 Isle Pkwy||8 a.m.-2 a.m.|
|Isle Casino Waterloo||Waterloo||777 Isle of Capri Blvd||8 a.m.-4 a.m.|
|Lakeside Hotel Casino||Osceola||777 Casino Dr||10 a.m.-4 a.m.|
|Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel||Tama||1504 305th St||8 a.m.-2 a.m.|
|Prairie Flower Casino||Carter Lake||1031 Ave H East||Open 24 hours|
|Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack and Hotel||Altoona||1 Prairie Meadows Dr||Open 24 hours|
|Q Casino||Dubuque||1855 Greyhound Park Rd||7 a.m.-3 a.m.|
|Rhythm City Casino Resort||Davenport||7077 Elmore Ave||Open 24 hours|
|Riverside Casino and Golf Resort||Riverside||3184 IA-22||Open 24 hours|
|Wild Rose Casino and Resort Clinton||Clinton||777 Wild Rose Dr||8 a.m.-3 a.m.|
|Wild Rose Casino and Resort Emmetsburg||Emmetsburg||777 Main St||Noon-12 a.m|
|Wild Rose Casino and Resort Jefferson||Jefferson||777 Wild Rose Rd||10 a.m.-2 a.m.|
|WinnaVegas Casino Resort||Sloan||1500 330th St||10 a.m.-12 a.m.|
The Ameristar has 160 hotel rooms, five restaurants/bars and meetings and events space. The casino includes 1,500+ slot machines, more than 20 table game, including blackjack and roulette, and a sportsbook.
This Onawa casino has a selection of slot machines, table games and electronic table games. The Upstream restaurant includes a buffet and weekly prime rib specials.
The Casino Queen offers slot machines, video poker and table games such as roulette, craps and blackjack. They also have three restaurants and the Queens Club Card rewards program.
Located in Burlington, Catfish Bend Casino has a PointsBet sportsbook lounge, more than 600 slot machines, table games and a poker room.
This Northwood casino offers stay-and-play packages with several nearby hotels. The gaming area boasts more than 900 slot machines, table games such as roulette, blackjack, cajun stud and craps, a poker room and a FanDuel sportsbook.
The Grand Falls doubles as a golf resort with an 18-hole golf course designed by Rees Jones. The property includes a hotel and four restaurants, while the casino has more than 750 slot machines, table games and a poker room.
Hard Rock Sioux City is a AAA Four Diamond hotel property with three bars and three restaurants. The gaming area includes more than 850 slot machines with a non-smoking section, table games and a sportsbook.
This Harrah’s hotel property/casino has more than 500 slot machines, table games such as craps, roulette, blackjack and high card flush, and a sportsbook with 24/7 betting kiosks. There’s also a steakhouse and two casual dining options.
Horseshoe Council Bluffs is a Caesars property featuring a hotel, RV park and several dining options. The casino includes nearly 1,400 slot machines, a poker room, table games and a sportsbook.
This hotel property/casino has more than 900 slot machines, table games such as blackjack, craps and roulette, and a William Hill sportsbook. The Isle also includes four restaurants.
The Isle Casino Waterloo offers visitors nearly 1,000 slot machines, video poker machines, table games and a William Hill sportsbook. There are also four restaurants and a hotel on property.
Located in Osceola, Lakeside offers a 150-room hotel, RV park and a buffet and restaurant. On the casino side, there’s a William Hill sportsbook, table games and more than 600 slot machines.
This stay-and-play property has more than 1,350 slot machines, bingo, a poker room and table games. The hotel has six dining options including a steakhouse, buffet and grill room.
This Carter Lake casino has roughly 200 slot machines, a snack bar and Prairie’s Pub for food and drinks.
Prairie Meadows has a one-mile track for horse racing betting and simulcast racing for horse and greyhound races. There’s also a hotel/casino with table games, slot machines and a William Hill sportsbook.
This is a greyhound race track in Dubuque that also includes a casino. Gaming options include nearly 1,000 slot machines, a sportsbook and table games.
Rhythm City is a Davenport casino with a hotel and entertainment lounge for music and comedy acts. The casino has more than 1,000 slot machines, table games, video poker and a Resort Club rewards program.
Riverside includes an 18-hole golf course with stay-and-play packages and a full spa. Gaming options include a sportsbook, table games, slot machines and a poker room.
This hotel/casino property in Clinton features table games, a sportsbook and simulcast racing. The hotel also includes a buffet and sports bar.
One of three Wild Rose properties, the Emmetsburg location offers slot machines, table games such as blackjack and Mississippi Stud and a DraftKings sportsbook.
The Wild Rose Jefferson has a hotel, live music venue and one restaurant. The casino side includes a DraftKings sportsbook, slot machines and table games.
Located in Sloan, the WinnaVegas casino offers more than 850 slot machines, a poker room, bingo and table games. There’s also a buffet and café, video game arcade and golf simulator.
Iowa has more than 20 land-based casinos, many of which now have retail sportsbooks. Most of the sportsbooks also offer online sports betting for Iowa residents and visitors.
It stands to reason that all existing brick-and-mortar casinos in Iowa would have an opportunity to apply for an online casino license should the state ever legalize real-money online casino play.
Sportsbooks at Iowa casinos also offer online sports gambling via mobile app, which players can easily download on an iOS or Android device. If Iowa were to push legislation for online casinos, mobile apps from top gaming operators for online table games and slot machines would certainly follow. The same would be true for any legal poker sites.
Iowa already has a state-run lottery, but online lottery remains off limits. Iowa lottery players have to purchase tickets at existing businesses, though the state would likely embrace an online lottery option if the gambling laws changed.
Online slots are increasingly popular and work just like the land-based options. Benefits of online slot machines include never having to wait for your favorite game and never searching the casino floor in search of a slot machine with your preferred limits.
Online poker is still off limits in Iowa, though that could change in the coming years. The rules for online poker will almost always be the same for popular games such as Texas Hold’em. The strategy is different because you can’t see the players at the table, so you need to rely on betting patterns in order to read everyone else at the table.
Online roulette is another popular table game that translates well from the land-based version. The rules, odds and strategy are all the same, though a random number generator determines where the “ball” lands rather than a spinning wheel. You can use popular methods like the Reverse Martingale or the James Bond strategy just as effectively. And you can easily place all the bets you want without worrying about a crowded table.
Online blackjack is a great way for experienced players to get action, or for newcomers trying to learn the game. Hands are played quickly, and players can easily get a lot of reps in to become more comfortable in certain scenarios. Plus, you can always play at your preferred stakes without searching for an open seat.
Live dealer is only available in a few states and might not be easy to find even if Iowa does move to legalize online casino play. Some people prefer seeing an actual human dealing cards, so live dealer incorporates a video stream with a croupier running table games from a remote location. The difference is purely visual and remains a relatively a small market at this time.
Iowa casino players will have a number of payment and deposit options if the state ever moves to legalize real-money online casinos.
Most top online casinos accept debit/credit card payments for player deposits. This is the most familiar option for many players but can run into issues. Some banks still flag these payments for suspicious activity even in states with legal online casino gambling. Make sure to talk to you bank directly rather than the casino if you run into problems with this method as it is through no fault of the casino operator. Credit card transactions that do work can also result in high fees.
Pre-paid online cards, such as the Play+ card, are a great deposit and withdrawal option. These are an easy work-around for any debit/credit card issues and serve as a middleman of sorts for the transaction. Players can add money to their Play+ card with a credit card or bank account and use it to deposit funds with the actual casino. They can withdraw winnings back to the card and access the cash from an ATM. One Play+ card can also be used at multiple casinos.
This is a similar approach to e-wallets such as PayPal, which is now accepted at most top online casinos. Players with existing accounts can simply transfer money from their PayPal account to the casino. Players without PayPal can sign up for a new account in just a matter of minutes. Neteller and Skrill are two other popular e-wallets.
Bank transfers and ACH payments are generally accepted as well and are preferred by VIPs and high rollers as limits tend to be higher, though processing times can be a bit longer.
Real-money online casinos in Iowa would come with a host of bonus offers and promotions for first-time players. These incentives are very valuable for new depositors, who should shop around various online casinos to see which bonus offer works best for them. We recommend signing up for multiple accounts to take advantage of multiple welcome bonuses.
Matched deposits are among the most popular bonuses offered. An online casino will match a player’s initial deposit up to a certain amount, like $1,000. The player then doubles their money right out of the gate and can use the matched deposit funds to play casino games and online slots. But they might have to wager a certain amount of their own funds before the bonus offer kicks in, and not all games will count 100% toward satisfying the bonus requirements. Be sure to read the terms and conditions.
Some casinos will offer a no-deposit bonus, giving a new player a small amount of cash, typically around $20 to $30, with minimal playthrough requirements.
Players should also look for opportunities to capitalize on refer-a-friend bonuses. Basically, a new player can invite friends to sign up and will receive bonus funds or free spins as a result. The referrer might need to wait until their friend wagers a certain amount before the bonus goes into their account.
Free spins are the best for online slot machine enthusiasts. The casino adds a certain number of tokens or free spins to a players’ account, which they can use to win real money. Again, be sure to check the playthrough requirements.
These are just a few of the many different bonuses and promotional offers out there. Make sure to look around and see which would be most beneficial based on your deposit size and playing preferences.
Iowa took a big step in 1983 with the legalization of pari-mutuel horse racing betting. Then-Gov. Terry Branstad organized the state’s first Racing and Gaming Commission as a result.
In 1985, Iowa instituted a state-run lottery. The initiative has since resulted in more than $2 billion in revenue for programs in the Hawkeye State.
Iowa first allowed for riverboat gambling in 1989, then negotiated three Native American gaming compacts. This opened the door for tribal casinos. The state expanded its casino options in 2005 by granting a host of commercial licenses for land-based casinos.
The state first authorized legal sports betting in 2019 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to do away with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and give individual states the power to legalize sports gambling. Iowa made it official when Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill to regulate sports betting on May 20, 2019.
Mobile and in-person sports betting is legalized, as are daily fantasy games. As many as two dozen casinos are expected to begin taking bets in person and through online partners.
The counties of Black Hawk, Palo Alto, Worth and Wapello approve gambling referendums.
Lawmakers strike down the $5 per hand maximum stake amount and also allow 24-hour gambling.
Three Native American casinos begin operations.
The first riverboat casino in Iowa takes its first bet.
Simulcast wagering is approved on horse races, allowing bettors to wager on races taking place in other states.
Iowa ratifies its first state-sanctioned lottery.
Iowa permits pari-mutuel horse and dog racing and appoints its first Racing and Gaming Commission members, paving the way for future gambling developments in ensuing decades.
Iowa was one of several states to take advantage of the changing sports betting laws in a timely fashion. The Hawkeye State regulated and legalized sports betting in May 2019 and currently has a host of retail sportsbooks options at several land-based casinos across the state.
There are many mobile sports apps in Iowa for bettors and no longer requires in-person registration to sign up. The state suspended that mandate amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the requirement went away permanently starting in 2021.
IOWA SPORTS BETTING HANDLE, MAY vs. APRIL
|Total Handle||Mobile Handle||Revenue|
|Change||Down 2.9%||Down 4.4%||Down 20.6%|
Updated June 10
LATEST NEWS: Iowa May Sports Betting Handle Shows Slight Decrease
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ 2019 sports betting bill also included daily fantasy sports. This allowed top DFS operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel to operate across Iowa. Their popular fantasy games across all sports gives players the opportunity to win big-money tournaments for a small entry free. Players construct a lineup for NFL, MLB, UFC, PGA Tour or other sports and operate with a limited salary cap. The top-scoring lineup for the game or tournament takes home the jackpot.
Horse racing betting is legal in Iowa and the state has one live racing track, Prairie Meadows, which also includes a casino. Simulcast betting is also legal where available, as is online betting for horse racing.
Iowa doesn’t have any restrictions on in-state college teams, meaning bettors are free to wager on the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones. You can only bet on eSports as part of a fantasy contest, but almost every major professional league and college sports are on the board, including:
Yes. Legal online gambling options in Iowa include sports betting, horse racing and Daily Fantasy Sports. However, real-money casino sites and internet poker are not legal in Iowa, though you can play at social or sweepstakes casinos.
The legal gambling age in Iowa is 21.
The state’s existing commercial and tribal casinos would likely all be eligible to apply for an online casino license should the state legalize real-money online casinos.
No, visitors and tourists aged 21-and-above are permitted to gamble in Iowa. But they must remain within state lines to do so. Geolocation software is used to ensure compliance.
Sweepstakes casinos are perfectly legal in Iowa and available with a wide array of online slot machines and table games. These are a great alternative to unregulated offshore casino sites.
Sports gambling, land-based casinos, horse racing, off-track betting, lottery and Daily Fantasy Sports are allowed in Iowa, as are social casinos.
Iowa residents and visitors can play table games and slot machines at the state’s 20-plus land-based casinos. They can also make sports bets online after signing up at a retail sportsbook.
Yes, and effective in 2021 in-person registration is no longer required, meaning you can sign up for online sports betting from anywhere in the state.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission was created in 1983 and oversees all of the state’s gambling industries.
Yes. Regulated, real-money online casinos go through a heavy vetting process to ensure the integrity of the games as well as players’ funds. They also help protect players’ personal information used in the sign-up process.
Gambling winnings over a certain amount are subject to income tax, which Iowa deducts on a sliding scale up to a maximum of 8.53%.
No, not yet. You can bet on fantasy sports in Iowa. An Iowa online sports betting law was also passed in 2019. You can use sweepstakes and social online casinos in the state. However, at the time of writing, real-money online casino and poker sites weren't permitted in Iowa.
Yes, there are 20 Iowa casino locations you can visit. Some of these are tribal casinos, some are riverboats, and others are commercial properties. A few land-based Iowa casinos to try are Horseshoe Council Bluffs, Ameristar Casino, and Blackbeard Bend Casino.
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