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Gaming commission OKs casino remodeling projects in ramp-up to legalized sports betting

Public hearing on rules expected to be held July 11

A man displays his betting slips after placing bets on the 2014 Super Bowl at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Superbook in Las Vegas. Wagering on professional and college sports has been legalized in Iowa. A public hearing on the rules is expected July 11, and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is expected to take action July 30, including accepting applications from casinos. Some casinos received commission approval Thursday for remodeling to create sportsbook areas. (Reuters)
A man displays his betting slips after placing bets on the 2014 Super Bowl at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Superbook in Las Vegas. Wagering on professional and college sports has been legalized in Iowa. A public hearing on the rules is expected July 11, and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is expected to take action July 30, including accepting applications from casinos. Some casinos received commission approval Thursday for remodeling to create sportsbook areas. (Reuters)

By Dave Dreeszen, Sioux City Journal

NORTHWOOD — Iowa regulators say they are on track to finalize rules that would allow state-licensed casinos to accept bets on most professional and college sports by early to mid-August.

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission staff has been working “thoroughly and swiftly” to develop rules for the new form of betting, with a goal of posting the rules on its website by July 1, administrator Brian Ohorilko said.

Timetable for the rollout

Ohorilko said the commission likely will hold a public hearing on the rules at its July 11 meeting at Prairie Meadows in Altoona.

At a special July 30 meeting in West Des Moines, the five-member commission likely will take action on sports betting, including accepting applications from casinos, Ohorilko said.

“The industry is requesting a pretty aggressive timetable to have things implemented by August,” he told the commission at its meeting Thursday at Diamond Jo Worth Casino near Northwood. “We’re doing everything we can to do that, but making sure that we’re doing it the right way.”

Remodeling for sports betting areas OK’d at three casinos

Three casinos — Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort near Larchwood and Lakeside Casino near Osceola — received the go-ahead Thursday from state regulators for remodeling to create space for visitors to wager on professional and college sports.

The casinos are the first in the state to move forward with bookmaking since Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill last month that legalized wagers on most professional and college sports.

The remodeling projects were approved on a conditional basis. The casino operators must qualify for a license, and the vendors they select to conduct the sports wagering must pass extensive background checks, Ohorilko said.

Commission approves sportsbook providers for some casinos

The gaming commission also approved Elite Casino Resorts LLC’s request to use Betworks LLC as a provider of sportsbook services for Elite’s three Iowa casinos — Grand Falls, Riverside Casino & Golf Resort and Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport.

The commission also voted to accept Bally Gaming to run the sportsbook being set up at Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs.

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Hard Rock and Grand Falls officials have pledged to have their sportsbooks up and running as soon as the gaming commission gives final approval. That should occur just as the NFL and college football seasons kick off this fall.

No in-game bets allowed, such as on Iowa sports teams

Iowa’s law legalizes betting not only on pro and college athletics, but also on daily fantasy sports sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel.

The new law does not allow in-game bets — known commonly as proposition, or prop bets — on in-state college teams such as the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones. Such bets usually involve small wagering amounts on things such as whether the first free throw of a basketball game is successful or if a player scores a certain number of points.

Registering at a casino will give access to online betting

At state-licensed casinos, visitors will be able to wager on games at employee-staffed windows or on their own at kiosks. After an initial registration at a casino, they also will be allowed to place bets online such as on their mobile devices.

A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for states other than Nevada to provide bookmaking and betting at casinos and racetracks.

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