Iowa Online Sports Betting And Gambling

Iowa online sports betting is live with other online gambling options available to residents. Although not as liberal as New Jersey or Pennsylvania, Iowa offers a good amount of opportunities to bettors.

Adults 21 and up who are located in the State of Iowa can legally gamble in-person at casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks or online at sports betting sites and apps.

If you’re 18 or older, you’re also able to play the Iowa lottery and place pari-mutuel bets on horse and dog racing.

For the foreseeable future, adults in Iowa will not be able to legally bet at online casinos or online poker sites. Thankfully, the 22 Iowa casinos are well distributed throughout the state.

What Forms Of Online Gambling Are Legal In Iowa?

Type Of GamblingIs It Legal?What You Need To Know
Online Sports BettingYesSeveral high-quality options available now, with more slotted for early 2021.
Online Horse RacingYesIowans 18 and up can legally bet on horses online.
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)YesIowans 18 and up can enter DFS contests and win money online.
Sweepstakes CasinosYesWin cash prizes at Chumba Casino or LuckyLand online in Iowa.
Sweepstakes PokerYesWin cash prizes at Global Poker, one of the most popular online poker sites in the US.
Online Lottery TicketsNot reallyYou can sign up at the Iowa Lottery website for VIP points and second-chance drawings. However, you can’t purchase tickets online.
Online CasinosNoOnline casinos are illegal in Iowa.
Online PokerNoOnline poker sites are illegal in Iowa, including WSOP and PokerStars.

Iowa Online Sportsbooks: An Overview

On May 20, 2019, sports betting and daily fantasy sports were officially legalized in Iowa. People in Iowa at least 21 years of age could officially bet on sports both online and in person.

However, for the first 18 months, bettors need to register in-person at a physical sportsbook to bet online. That means no one can bet remotely until after visiting a physical retailer until January 2021.

But once you complete registration at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, you have unlimited access to the site or app from anywhere within state lines.

Top Three Best Sports Betting Sites In Iowa

1. DraftKings Sportsbook

The DraftKings Sportsbook is a robust platform that offers a huge number of events no matter the season. It’s available via the website as well as iOS and Android apps.

What started as a daily fantasy sports (DFS) platform has evolved into an all-encompassing gambling site and app. While you can’t play their casino games from Iowa, you can seamlessly switch from the standard sportsbook to the DFS side.

The DraftKings Sportsbook Iowa bonus offer includes a 20% deposit bonus up to $1000.

To register at DraftKings in-person, you’ll need to visit Harrah’s Council Bluffs, Horseshoe Council Bluffs, or any Wild Rose location.

2. William Hill

William Hill is one of the oldest and most respected sportsbooks in the world. Available via their website as well as iOS and Android apps, this brand lives up to its stellar reputation in Iowa.

Currently, William Hill has a bonus offer that rewards new members $50 in bonus cash for placing $50 in bets. That’s not as impressive as the DraftKings Sportsbook, but William Hill’s selection of events, VIP program, and competitive odds make them a viable choice, especially if a partnering casino is close by.

Register in person for the William Hill app by visiting Prairie Meadows, Lakeside Hotel, Isle Casino Waterloo, or Isle of Capri.

3. PointsBet

PointsBet is a lesser-known online sportsbook choice compared to William Hill and DraftKings.

However, it’s quickly gaining recognition in several other US states for their high-quality odds, event selection, and platform, available via iOS and Android.

PointsBet Iowa is also always changing up their promos. But when this was written, they were offering up to $1,500 in risk-free betting for first customers.

PointsBet also partnered with Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, meaning you could sign up for both PointsBet and William Hill in-person at one location.

The only other land-based partner at this time is Catfish Bend Casino.

Other Legal Online Sportsbooks In Iowa

Here is a list of sports betting sites currently offered in Iowa:

Here are the online sportsbooks expected to launch in Iowa:

Sports You Can Bet On In Iowa – And Sports You Can’t

In Iowa, you can bet on all college and professional sports without restrictions, including in-state teams.

However, you cannot place in-game wagers on college sports – once the game begins, all betting on that event is final.

Additional Forms Of Online Gambling In Iowa

Online Horse Racing

Prairie Meadows in Altoona is Iowa’s premier racetrack. But you can find off-track betting (OTB) facilities all across the state. From Sioux City to Cedar Rapids and every city between, there’s a place a short drive away that takes horse bets.

But you don’t need to leave home to safely and legally bet on horses in Iowa. You have access to a variety of horse race betting websites, including BetAmerica, TwinSpires, and TVG, all legitimate and high-quality options.

Betting on horses online is the same as betting in person. The only real difference is the ability to bet in cash. You can place a show bet or go for the trifecta, and depositing funds only requires a credit card or e-wallet (such as PayPal).

In fact, betting online will unlock a lot more races than Prairie Meadows or any OTB facility could offer. You can bet on international races, which means there’s always action day and night.

You can also live stream most of the events. So, while it’s not the same environment as an OTB facility, you can still yell at the screen for your horse to win.

Make sure to research the different options to find one that most closely fits your preferences, particularly in terms of withdrawal and deposit methods.

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)

People in Iowa didn’t have access to the major daily fantasy sports (DFS) platforms until sports betting was legalized in May 2019. But then they had to wait for approval, which meant that DraftKings and FanDuel weren’t accessible until September 2019.

However, people located in Iowa who are 18 and up have access to all the major DFS platforms. You can legally deposit money, buy into contests, win cash prizes, and withdraw without a hitch.

Interestingly, most states don’t consider DFS gambling. DraftKings and FanDuel managed to lobby most parts of the country into considering DFS skill-based gaming.

If you’re wondering how DFS is skill-based but poker is not, the answer is simple: online poker lobbyists aren’t as good or as powerful or as in-demand as the DFS lobbyists. It seems to be as simple as that.

If you join the DraftKings Sportsbook, you can switch to the DFS platform using the same account and funds. So sports bettors can give both a try without having to join different sites. The same will be true once the FanDuel Sportsbook enters the Iowa market.

You also never had to register in-person at DFS sites. You can simply join and start betting from home.

Sweepstakes Casinos

Sweepstakes casinos are the closest thing to an online casino that Iowa bettors can access legally. But don’t let their legality fool you: sweepstakes casinos are a legitimate way to win cash prizes playing your favorite casino games.

The only two you should consider are Chumba Casino and LuckyLand. They’re trustworthy sites that make it easy to buy coins and redeem cash prizes and gift cards. There may be other options, but we’re not aware of any that compare to Chumba and LuckyLand.

At both sites, you can receive free Sweeps Coins by creating an account, logging in daily, and a few other methods. You can also purchase Gold Coins and receive Sweeps Coins as a bonus.

To receive cash prizes or gift cards, you need to win more Sweeps Coins. You can do this by using Sweeps Coins to play various gaming options. Once you have enough to redeem, you can choose between a cash prize or gift card. The minimum for a cash prize is 100 SC at Chumba and 50 SC at LuckyLand.

The game options at LuckyLand are exclusively slots, while Chumba offers a few table games, including blackjack and American roulette.

Sweepstakes Poker

Only a few states offer legal online poker, so most poker players across the country need to travel to physical card rooms.

That is unless they play sweepstakes poker.

Believe it or not, Global Poker is one of the most popular poker sites in the country. Everyone in the US and Canada (except the State of Washington and Quebec) has legal access, and you can win cash prizes by competing against other players.

The currency structure is the same as the sweepstakes casinos. In fact, Global Poker and Chumba share a parent company, so even the terminology is the same.

To win cash prizes or receive gift cards on Global Poker, you need to win Sweeps Coins. You can play Ring Games, Sit ‘n’ Go, and Tournaments, and limits and buy-ins range from 0.01 SC to 20 SC and more.

When you register at Global Poker, you’ll receive free Sweeps Coins, and you can receive more by purchasing Gold Coins, which include Sweeps Coins.

As a bonus, Global Poker has a few casino games as well, including two variations of blackjack and some slots titles.

Sweepstakes sites aren’t as straightforward as traditional gambling sites. However, once you understand how it works, it’s simple and can be just as enjoyable as any other poker site or online casino.

Online Lottery Tickets

The Iowa Lottery does not allow members to buy tickets online or play online games.

Michigan residents can join the state lottery and buy tickets through the site. This includes buying Mega Millions tickets, where you can pick numbers or have them randomly selected. You can also play instant win, keno, and scratch-off games online. It’s very similar to an online casino, except that it’s a random win lottery structure rather than a game that progresses as you play.

Iowa does not have the same setup. Maybe it will in the future, but there are no public talks to confirm that possibility.

Instead, the Iowa Lottery website allows you to scan tickets for loyalty points that can be cashed in for free tickets, prize giveaways, and so on. Some lottery games also have a second-chance promotion where you can scan the ticket for an additional chance at a prize.

It’s worth joining if you’re an avid lottery player. They always have some sort of promotion running that you can participate in at the very least.

But you can access a lot of features without becoming a member. You can search for where you can find specific games and see winning numbers as well.

Online Casino

Iowa unfortunately does not offer any legalized form of the online casino.

There are no talks of legalizing it, especially because sports betting was recently greenlit. They’ll need to see how the online sportsbooks work out before there are any legitimate talks of online casino gaming.

Only a few states have legalized online casino gaming. Even the State of Nevada outlaws online casinos, presumably because the land-based casinos want you to play with them directly. The way they see it, if you can play on your phone, you’re less likely to book hotel rooms, buy meals, or stay at the tables longer.

New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania are currently the only states with legalized online casinos, with West Virginia and Michigan launching soon. Everyone else in the country either needs to play at a sweepstakes casino, travel to a physical location, or risk it and join an offshore (illegal) online casino.

If an online casino is offered to Iowa residents, it’s technically breaking state law. While you can safely play there from a legal standpoint, the lack of oversight makes online casinos a precarious endeavor. We do not recommend it.

Online Poker

The only states with legal online poker are Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Of those legalized states, only Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada share player pools.

So the legal online poker landscape in the US is almost as lacking as the online casino front. Iowa, like all its neighboring states, is limited to Global Poker or illegal poker sites unless lawmakers pass new legislation.

From our perspective, the rest of the US isn’t going to join the online poker and online casino legalization until there’s more political capital.

The best bet Iowan online poker players have are strong numbers for in-state sports betting. If all goes smoothly and mobile sportsbooks are a standard part of Iowan life, someone will probably introduce an online poker or casino proposal.

According to a February 2020 poll conducted and reported by the Des Moines Register, 52 percent of Iowans oppose sports betting. That’s not exactly promising in terms of online casinos and poker, which are significantly less popular than sports betting.

Brick-And-Mortar Casinos In Iowa

The modern history of Iowa gambling starts in the 1980s when three key forms of betting were legalized.

In 1983, horse and greyhound racing was legalized. Since then, Iowans can place pari-mutuel bets across the state.

Then the state lottery was introduced in 1985, followed by legalized riverboat casinos in 1989. In fact, Iowa was the first state to bring back riverboat casinos since its popularization at the turn of the 20th century.

But there were no noteworthy changes to gambling laws until 2004 when the state decided to combat problem gambling by setting player-protective mandates. They included self-exclusion programs and fewer ATMs on the riverboat casinos.

Iowa’s new 21st century laws must have eased the concerns of enough lawmakers to make the biggest change to gambling laws over 20 years: the legalization of land-based casinos.

Now, only one true riverboat casino remains, the Casino Queen Marquette. The rest of the 22 casinos include 18 commercial and three tribal land-based casinos.

In May 2019, Iowa legalized physical and online sportsbooks. All casinos could open a sportsbook as well as partner with online sports betting platforms. So far, all casinos (except the one and only riverboat casino) opened a sportsbook.

How Iowa Gambling Laws Compare To Neighboring States

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has 26 total casinos, all of which are tribal-owned and span the entire state.

However, Wisconsin does not offer any online gambling options. But they also haven’t outright made online gambling illegal in the state. Technically, it’s not against state law to play at offshore sites.

No commercial casinos means there’s a low chance online gambling will be legalized beyond daily fantasy sports (DFS). But DFS players in Wisconsin can already enjoy the major platforms, so any legalization would be simply making it official and putting regulations in place.

Iowa gambling laws are more lenient and will be for the foreseeable future.

Illinois

From the player’s perspective, Illinois and Iowa’s gambling laws are virtually the same. However, Iowa has more land-based casinos.

Both states legalized online sports betting in 2019, and they both require in-person registration at brick-and-mortar locations until 2021. They also have many of the same options, including PointsBet and DraftKings.

So, if you live close to a land-based casino, then your access to gambling is the same whether you’re in Illinois or Iowa.

From an operator’s perspective, the taxes and limitations differ wildly. If you’re looking to open a casino, you’d be better off in Iowa in that regard.

Missouri

Missouri is home to over a dozen casinos, most of which are located around St. Louis and Kansas City. Like Iowa, Missouri gambling was limited to the riverboats until the 1990s.

The state does not offer sports betting at this time, but lawmakers will almost certainly legalize it within the next year or two. It’s likely that it would have been legalized in 2020 if the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t happened.

In the very near future, adults located in Missouri will be able to place legal bets on sports in person and online.

In the meantime, Missouri residents living in or near St. Louis can visit DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis to place bets on their favorite team.

Nebraska

The state of Nebraska has explicitly made gambling illegal. The only options in the state are four tribal casinos, and all four are located in the northeast corner of the state. That means folks in or around Sioux City, Iowa, are a short drive away from all of them.

The two largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln, are over an hour away by car from the closest in-state casinos. But that’s still closer than most out-of-state casinos – except for those in Iowa. So, chances are, most Nebraska gamblers come to The Hawkeye State.

South Dakota

South Dakota has a lot of casinos, nine of which are tribal and over a dozen are commercial. They also have racinos as well as bingo parlors and off-track betting locations.

Many are located in Deadwood, all the way across the state from Iowa, but there are a few in Sioux Falls.

South Dakota is on track to vote in favor of sports betting in November 2020. If voters approve, then the lawmakers will get a bill together in 2021.

The state does not currently offer any form of legal online gambling, including sports betting sites. However, sportsbook legalization may extend to betting apps.

Minnesota

Minnesota has 21 tribal casinos located throughout the state. They also have two racetracks that accept pari-mutuel bets and double as card rooms, where live poker and other card games are played.

Minnesota had a semi-promising sports bill in 2018 that never amounted to anything. In 2020, talks resurfaced, but tribal casino opposition shot it down.

Unless the tribal casinos agree to a path forward for sports betting in any form (online or in-person), Minnesotans will have to travel to their neighboring state of Iowa to bet on sports.

Is It Safe To Gamble Online In Iowa?

Yes, as long as you’re careful to choose the legally licensed sites.

Iowa online sportsbooks approved by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission are completely safe. The major DFS sites, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, are legitimate sites where you can win real money as well.

However, offshore online casinos and poker sites may be unsafe. These sites are technically illegal in the State of Iowa. While you won’t get into legal trouble for simply betting at them, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive your winnings, the games are fair, or that your personal information is secure.

Who Regulates Gambling In The State Of Iowa?

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) regulates in-state gambling. This extends to horse and dog racing, casinos, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports.

The IRGC website is an extensive but easy to navigate tool with a lot of helpful information. Using the “Publications” dropdown, you can see which Iowa casinos pay out the most. You can look at what sports bets have been approved by the commission for specific contests. You can even check exactly how much your state is receiving in taxes from gaming revenue.

Through the IRGC, gamblers can also opt into the self-exclusion program, where all Iowa casinos and sportsbooks will reject you to assist in problem gambling recovery.

Iowa Gambling Quick Facts

What is the gambling age in Iowa?

Folks in Iowa 21 and over have access to all forms of gambling. This includes casinos and the sportsbooks, both online and in-person.

If you’re in Iowa and you’re 18 and up, you can legally play the lottery, daily fantasy sports (DFS), and pari-mutuel race betting.

Has Iowa legalized online sports betting?

Yes. Iowa legalized online sports betting on May 20, 2019. 

The first physical sportsbooks launched in August 2019, and bettors need to register in-person for the online version until January 2021. 

Iowan sports bettors have access to several online sportsbooks, with more slotted to enter the market once the in-person registration requirement expires.

Are all forms of online gambling legal in Iowa?

No, only sports and pari-mutuel race betting are legal forms of online gambling in Iowa. Online casinos and poker sites are currently illegal in the state.

Other ways to win cash prizes online in Iowa is through daily fantasy sports (DFS), sweepstakes sites, and the Iowa Lottery website, which hosts second-chance drawings.

Does Iowa have a lottery?

Yes. The Iowa State Lottery participates in lottery pools like the Mega Millions and Powerball as well as their own lottery games.

According to the website, the state offers a new scratch-off close to every month. You can also join their loyalty program to earn points and participate in second-chance drawings on losing tickets.

Can I play the Iowa Lottery online?

No. Unlike a few states like Michigan and Maryland, you cannot buy Iowa lottery tickets online. 

When you join the Iowa Lottery website, you can earn loyalty points and scan losing tickets for second-chance drawings. 

But you can’t play online scratch-offs or pick your lotto numbers through the site.

What are the taxes for gambling money won in Iowa?

State income tax applies to total gambling winnings in Iowa. That means you’re expected to pay 24% in federal income tax as well as 5% in Iowa income tax on that year’s net winnings. 

For example, if you win $1,000 in 2021, you owe $240 to the IRS and $50 to Iowa. Find more information on this page of the Iowa Department of Revenue website.

Are loyalty programs at Iowa casinos worth joining?

Yes. There’s no good reason not to join loyalty programs at Iowa casinos. 

For doing what you’d normally do, like place bets and buy food, you’ll earn points that can be cashed in for a wide range of benefits. 

For example, a day of gambling could score you free dinner or a free night’s stay at the hotel.

Who runs the different casinos in Iowa?

Iowa has three Native American casinos, each owned by a different tribe. 

Iowa has over a dozen commercial casinos as well, many of which are owned by national companies based in Las Vegas. Examples include Boyd Gaming and Caesars Entertainment. 

Interestingly, Q Casino is owned and operated by the City of Dubuque.

 

About the Author

Mike Epifani

Mike Epifani is an experienced online gambling writer who specializes in online casinos and sports betting sites. From the nuances of bonus offers to winning strategies and beyond, his insights have helped countless remote bettors keep more of their money while having fun and staying safe.