Sports betting in Iowa now is legal. Here are the basics you should know

People at gaming machines at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, Iowa, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Jim Slosi
People at gaming machines at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, Iowa, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Betting on collegiate and professional sports in Iowa is now legal as of Aug. 15.

But how does it work?

Here are some basics anyone planning to place bets needs to know.

How do I place a bet?

Iowans 21 and over have two options: in any casino that applied for and received a state license to conduct sports betting, and through an online account. Online bets can be placed on any internet-capable device: desktop computers and laptops, mobile phones and tablets, for example. There is no option to phone in a sports bet.

How do I set up an online account?

Iowans who plan to place bets online first must create an account. That account must be created by visiting one of the casinos licensed to conduct sports betting with proof of age and identity. It has to be cash, debit or check. Credit cards are not a permitted funding mechanism. Bettors, though, are permitted to link their bank accounts to their sports wagering account. And as such, it is not required to fund the account initially when registering. That in-person requirement sunsets on Jan. 1, 2021, after which Iowans will be able to establish an online account via the internet. Once an account is established, a bettor can place funds in his or her account at any time from any place.

How much money can I have in my account?

The state established no regulations for how much money an individual keeps in his or her online gambling account, nor how much an individual wagers.

However, the state did require casinos and sports betting companies to create tools that would allow individuals to place their own restrictions on how much they gamble. For example, if an individual wants to cap his or her online monthly betting at $300, the casinos and sports betting companies that develop the betting apps must have in place a mechanism that allows the individual to set that cap. Such limits are only voluntary and can only be placed on an individual’s own account.

Where do I place a bet online?

Each casino, in partnership with a sports betting company, will develop a mobile application or website through which Iowans can place a bet. Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the state agency that will regulate sports betting, says it is reasonable to expect between a half-dozen and a dozen different sports betting companies will develop apps for Iowa bettors.

How do I collect my winnings?

For individuals who place bets in the casinos, it will be no different from collecting any other casino winnings. For individuals who bet online, once the bet is settled any winnings will be automatically and immediately placed in the online sports betting accounts.

Does online betting track my location?

Yes. Bets are legal only in Iowa, and the betting apps will track each bettor’s physical location to ensure that. So even if you are an Iowan with an established online Iowa sports betting account, you will not be able to place a bet from outside Iowa’s borders. For example, if you live in Davenport and have an Iowa sports betting account, you will not be able to place a bet while spending some time across the river in Rock Island, Ill. Similarly, Iowans on vacation outside the state will not be able to place bets.

Ohorilko noted the tracking works both ways, though. He said, for example, an individual from Nebraska can travel into Iowa, create an account and place bets while still in Iowa.

How will betting be monitored?

The state did not establish any state oversight to identify problem betting. But it did require the sports betting companies that contract with the casinos to watch for and report any suspicious wagering activity — in other words, activity that suggests someone is attempting to rig the system to make money off bets. If the companies spot any potential problems — an unusually large amount of bets on a particular game, for example — they are required to report to the state commission, which would then work with local law enforcement to investigate.

Which casinos offer sports betting?

As of now, the state has licensed six casinos to offer sports betting, though more are likely to be licensed by the start of the college and professional football seasons in the coming weeks, Ohorilko said. The casinos that already are licensed are Isle Casino in Waterloo, Isle Casino in Bettendorf, Prairie Meadows Casino in Altoona, Lakeside Casino in Osceola, Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington, and Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs.

Are the daily fantasy sports sites ready?

Not quite yet. Daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel are working with but not yet licensed by the state, Ohorilko said. But he expects they also will be licensed and ready in time for the football seasons.


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