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Sports betting in Iowa to start Aug. 15 at noon, if rules pass this week

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission meets Tuesday to approve regulations, casino applications

People play gaming machines near he Top Golf Swing Suite and Draft Day lounge at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, Iowa, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
People play gaming machines near he Top Golf Swing Suite and Draft Day lounge at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, Iowa, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Aug. 15 at noon. That’s when gamblers in Iowa can place their first legal wager on professional and college sports events or fantasy sports contests.

That is if all goes well Tuesday when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is slated to approve rules for sports wagering and approve license applications made by 18 of Iowa’s 19 state-regulated casinos. The Casino Queen Marquette is the only state-licensed casino that has not applied for a sport wagering license, said Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, but he expects it to do so eventually.

Rules and regulations that were the subject of a July 11 public hearing had a few minor modifications or technical corrections, Ohorilko said Friday, but overall are ready for consideration when the five-member state convenes in West Des Moines this week. If approved on an emergency basis, the framework will be in place by about July 30 and casinos will be able to enter into partnerships with advanced deposit sports wagering operators that also must be licensed by the state to conduct sports wagering on Aug. 15. Casinos have been negotiating with third-party companies to help them conduct sports betting and planning renovations to make space for their sportsbook operations.

A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for states beyond Nevada to provide bookmaking and betting at casinos and racetracks. The Iowa Legislature approved and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law earlier this year Senate File 617, a bill that legalized wagers on most professional and college sports in state-regulated casinos and online.

Iowa’s law legalizes betting not only on pro and college athletics, but also on daily fantasy sports sites like 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 like whether the first free throw of a basketball game is successful or if a player scores a certain number of points. The college football season kicks off Aug. 24 and professional football season begins Sept. 5.

According to estimates, the state stands to collect a 6.75 percent tax on the casinos’ sports-betting “hold,” which is the house’s share after bets have been settled. Betting will be restricted to adults 21 and older. Casinos will pay annual fees, revenue would be taxed and the gambling will be regulated by the state commission that oversees dog and horse racing.

Residents in cities such as Cedar Rapids that do not have a state-licensed casino will have to travel to one to initially establish an online wagering account and meet Iowa’s qualifications to participate, Ohorilko said. Iowa’s new sports wagering is expected to draw bettors from neighboring states. The out-of-state bettors will be able to use an app on their mobile phones to place wagers. First, however, they would have to visit an Iowa casino in person to establish an account. The app would work only within state borders, so visitors would have to travel to Iowa to place the sports bets.

l Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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