Michael McKean is an experienced writer with a portfolio that includes work on the subjects of sport, gambling, travel and finance. With a background rooted in journalism, Michael first ventured into the professional writing world based in Switzerland, where he wrote for a number of language and travel sites and magazines before moving into the world of sports writing and gambling sites.
As an avid soccer fan, who follows everything from the Scottish lower leagues to the European elites, he has earned himself a solid reputation as a reliable football betting tipster and predictor. Outside of work, Michael has always gotten involved with grassroutes football everywhere he has worked and lived - UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil - and still isn’t shy when it comes to pulling the boots on himself. As well as soccer, he has also developed a love of North American sports, particularly ice hockey - a love which began in Switzerland and saw him venture across the pond to follow the NHL. Moving away from dry land, he’s also a keen longboard surfer and is happiest when writing with a view of the ocean.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Iowa?
While the US has a checkered past with gambling, everyone knows that the public mood towards the activity is evolving. After all, New Jersey and Nevada aren’t the only states with economies based on wagering any longer.
Still, the matter depends on the individual state, which means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy. As far as online gambling Iowa goes, this means it’s wise to double-check the facts before placing a bet. With this CaptainGambling.com guide, you’ll learn more about everything from the types of legalized formats to where’s the best place to play online.
The legal status quo in Iowa - is online gambling legal in Iowa?
It’s a question well worth asking yourself because lots of Iowa residents aren’t sure whether online gambling Iowa services are legitimate. In fact, legal states for online gambling are opening up all of the time, yet the state’s history with the pastime means that the status quo is a little different compared to most regions in the US.
A history of online gambling laws in Iowa
Similar to the majority of the country, Iowa had a zero-tolerance policy regarding betting, whether online or in-person. Whereas now a simple Google search will highlight the best online gambling sites Montana offers, until the 80s, locals didn’t get the opportunity to indulge their passion for gambling. That changed in the 1980s, thanks to then-governor Terry Branstad.
What did he do?
Essentially, he made some forms of wagering legal. Although several popular activities were left in the dark, the likes of pari-mutuel horse racing and lotteries were regulated by Iowa’s first-ever Racing and Gaming Commission in 1983. In 1985, a state-sanctioned lottery was added, and riverboat casinos fell under the umbrella in 1989.
Where does this leave Iowa now?
It’s complicated. Horse racing, lottery, and land-based casino services are available due to the work of Branstad back in the 80s and 90s. However, the last license awarded to an operator was in 2005, which means that online casino gambling is still illegal. Sportsbooks are fair game after the Supreme Court quashed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018.
Iowa has taken advantage of the 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowing states to loosen restrictions on gambling providers. This may appear as if it’s following the status quo, yet the truth is that Iowa is part of a group that has decided to adopt more liberal attitudes. Maryland, for example, doesn’t have any sportsbooks for its residents, meaning options for Maryland online gambling sites are few and far between.
The state’s legislature changed the rules in 2019, almost a year after the federal government repealed the PASPA of 1992. By August 2019, the first online sports betting markets went live and were accessible by Iowans. However, in the beginning, not everyone had the honor of being able to open up an app and place a wager. Thankfully, that changed in January 2021 when it became legal to register for sports betting accounts from anywhere in the region. This was because the rule forcing customers to sign up by visiting a land-based casino was removed.
Mostly, there aren’t many online operators without links to local casinos. This is due to a piece of legislation that says providers must have a brick-and-mortar operation if they want to trade in Iowa. Of course, online sports betting companies have found a simple loophole - partner with the operators that already have a foothold in the market. As a result, a brand like FanDuel can legally target Iowans, and Iowans can gladly accept their services since FanDuel has a relationship with the Diamond Jo Casino. FanDuel has been granted a sports betting license by the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.
Use the table below to help you compare the different state operators, or for inspiration on which provider to pick.
Casino gaming in Iowa - are the Iowa gambling laws different from sports betting?
In a nutshell, the answer is yes. The Supreme Court paved the way for sportsbooks to be made legal a couple of years ago, yet the same precedent hasn’t been set for online casino games. Therefore, the sector is largely prohibited by the same Iowa law that prevents land-based organizations from popping up across the area. Compared to Iowa’s peers, such as Michigan, this is completely different as Michigan gambling sites are already up and running.
It’s tempting to see this as a little strange considering that online wagering is allowed in other forms, such as sportsbooks and horse racing services. Plus, there’s the small fact of the 20+ traditional establishments that can be found across Hawkeye State. So, why is internet-based gambling falling behind in Iowa?
Iowa is focusing on sports markets
Services for online gambling Iowa center on sportsbooks, yet it’s easy to see why when you evaluate the recent history of the sector. Not only has the activity just been made legal, but the restrictions for consumers are easing further. The result is that the Hawkeye State appears to be concentrating on making revenues from sports betting bigger before they move onto online casino gambling. Seeing as Iowa recorded revenues of over $100 million in July 2020, it’s probably not going to happen soon.
Part of the reason traditional casinos exist is down to Native American tribes. By law, they are exempt from the legislation that prevents US companies from operating a gambling platform. Iowa has a swath of territories that are owned by these tribes, meaning there are real casinos in the state. Riverboats operate in a similar gray area as they are often placed between state lines where the rules don’t apply.
The topic doesn’t have to be complicated, not when you use the table underneath to your advantage. With our recommendations, you’ll know which operators to trust and why.
Unfortunately, online poker isn’t part of the online gambling Iowa laws that have made wagering in the area accessible in recent years. At the time of writing, online poker continues to be forbidden - the same way that online casinos are - and it doesn’t appear as if the rules will change any time soon.
But, it’s worth remembering that online casinos aren’t the only place on the internet where you can play a couple of hands of your favorite game. Social casinos are fantastic middle grounds because they are legal throughout the United States. We’ll talk about them more in-depth in this guide, yet the thing to keep in mind is that no money changes hands. You can play for fun without worrying about committing a crime.
Sweepstake sites are fantastic alternatives, too. The sweepstakes model is legal in America, meaning you can play for real money. The way it works is that you have to buy some sort of token, such as a coin, and use this to buy into poker games. When you win, you are awarded more, and you can swap them when you finish your session for cash prizes.
Fantasy sports in Iowa - Similar to sports betting
The brilliant news regarding fantasy sports is that it is similar to sports betting. After all, you’re essentially staking money on the same games, only with different rules. This may have been why it was included in the same bill that passed through Iowa’s Senate and House that legalized online sportsbooks.
DraftKings was the first provider to enter the market in October 2019 and was quickly followed by FanDuel in November 2019. There were limits on what players could do in the beginning, yet they have been changed for the most part. A prime example is a rule only allowing people to bet on athletes in professional sports, which was expanded to collegiate players in 2020.
Online gambling Iowa DFS services are very extensive in the state, making it a competitive market for customers who are searching for the best value. The table below outlines which operators are worth considering if you’re a daily fantasy sports fan.
Social casinos in Iowa - what Iowa online gambling sites should you choose?
Social casinos are excellent alternatives for gamblers who want to play casino games that are illegal in Iowa. As a rule, social casinos are legal because money doesn’t change hands, so they aren’t frowned upon by the US’ local authorities. Of course, it’s important to understand the distinctions between them and regular casinos, the main one being that you can only play for fun.
The flip side of the coin, though, is that you can enjoy yourself without fretting. Another way to look at it is that social casinos allow you to practice your gambling skills. With the online gambling Iowa landscape dramatically changing all the time, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that online casinos will be lawful in the future. If you’re a beginner now, playing at social casinos will encourage you to move up to intermediary or expert level.
You can’t do that if you don’t know where to find the services, which is why we have a few recommendations worth factoring into your decision. There aren’t loads of social casinos in Iowa, but the following are popular because of their libraries and customer service:
Slotomania (linked through Harrah’s & Horseshoe)
Lady Luck Casino (partnered with Bettendorf & Waterloo)
MyVegas (MGM Resorts)
Other betting options in Iowa - where to go if you prefer alternative verticals
Not everyone likes to play the online slot machines or watch the river card as it’s turned over in Texas Hold’em. Some prefer to try their luck at the horse track or on the lottery, but don’t have time to attend or fill out the numbers in person. Thankfully, other online gambling Iowa verticals are eligible.
If you assumed online sportsbooks may have infringed upon horse racing betting, you are mistaken. The fact that pari-mutuel wagering is the main type of horse racing gambling helps matters since operators require relationships with tracks. That’s because the track provides the odds and winners are paid out through their account. Prairie Meadows, Iowa’s number one racetrack, lets people place bets via their website, as does TVG.
Bingo falls under Iowa Code Chapter 99B, which refers to gambling for charitable purposes. Several states take the same stance because the money goes to a good cause. Raffles and amusement devices are also usually exempt if a license is obtained. However, as far as online bingo goes, nothing has been passed through the state government as of yet.
The lottery is state-run and part of the Multi-State Lottery Association. Sadly, it’s not digital, so you can’t buy your tickets online. There is an app, yet it’s for information only.
The topic of eSports is strange because it’s illegal. However, this is expected to change since sportsbooks and DFS are allowed in Iowa.
Editor’s recommendation - the best operator for Iowa gambling sites
Now that you know more about the online gambling landscape in Iowa, the next step is to choose an operator you can trust. There are several in the market, even though internet wagering in IA is relatively complicated compared to the rest of the US. Still, we don’t think you can beat FanDuel.
For starters, it’s one of the market leaders where fantasy sports are concerned. As you know, DFS is a massive industry that bettors love, so it makes sense to select between FanDuel and DraftKings. FD manages to pip its main rival in Iowa because it went live with its app in September 2020, and the app is superior to any of its competitors.
FanDuel has excellent sportsbooks, too. A feature that makes it stand out from the crowd is the brand’s relationship with Diamond Jo Worth Casino. The fact that Diamond Jo Worth Casino runs a FanDuel sportsbook on its casino floor provides more options regarding registering for an account, depositing money, and withdrawing your winnings.
TVG, the horse racing website, is owned by FanDuel, which gives FD an edge. While it doesn’t offer horse racing odds itself, TVG does provide services to Iowa residents, and a lot of them overlap if you’re a FanDuel customer. Our research makes FanDuel the clear leader in online gambling in Iowa.
20% up to $1000
T&Cs apply, 18+
Get DraftKings Casino Bonus
What does the future hold for betting and gaming in Iowa? How Iowa gambling sites may change
Online sports betting is expected to open the door for more gambling solutions in Iowa in the future. For example, everything from poker to blackjack and roulette could be legal. Of course, online slots are the biggest moneymakers, meaning they will follow suit.
Sadly, it’s hard to put a timeline on when betting and gaming in IA may change. The counties of Black Hawk, Palo Alto, Worth, and Wapello approved reforms in 2003, and it took another 16 years before sports betting became legal. You have to go back to the 80s and 90s for legalization on the same scale.
Currently, Iowa’s Congress isn’t debating a bill. Therefore, a lot of time may elapse because the process is slow. However, Iowans have one thing on their side - demand.
Conclusion - understanding the online gambling Iowa industry
To get the most from the online gambling Iowa industry, you need to understand it first. Sure, it seems complicated on the surface, but there is a foundation for Iowans to benefit from if they know where to look. For instance, sports betting and fantasy sports betting services are legal and perfect for gamblers as the flexibility is wide-reaching. Also, some of the biggest names are involved in the market, such as FanDuel, a brand we fully endorse.
All in all, some things are confusing. However, the potential is there, which is more than we can say for some states. After all, services in Louisiana are still being worked out. To find out more about online gambling Louisiana, check out this extensive review. As for Iowa, there’s a lot to work with if you’re local to the area.
Sports betting has turned into one of the biggest gambling markets in the sector. Whether it’s US, European or Asian sports, people are interested. As a result, they are happy to place a wager on the outcome. To find out whether sports betting is legal in Iowa and which sports you can gamble on, please go through our guide. You’ll find all the information you require.
♎ What are Daily Fantasy Sports?
With the sports industry getting bigger, it’s not surprising to see new formats hit the market. Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS, have been popular in North America for a while because they are fantastic ways for supporters to connect with their teams. This guide outlines the DFS sector and what you can expect from it as an Iowan consumer.
㊗ Are there land-based casinos in Iowa?
Online casinos and betting websites are trendy now, but they weren’t the first platforms. Before the internet, land-based establishments were the only places people could go to gamble. While they are losing a bit of popularity, they continue to welcome thousands of guests per year. Does this happen in Iowa? Read our insightful guides on gambling in Iowa to find out!