Sports betting went live in Iowa in 2019, and soon first legal sportsbooks opened its doors to local bettors. Iowa has never been too harsh on gambling and became one of the first states to legalize offline casinos. Still, the new Iowa sports betting law was still a big deal: both for gamblers and the state’s gambling revenues that doubled almost immediately after the governor signed the betting bill.
Like the other states, Iowa accepted some particular rules regarding online and retail sports betting. To help you sort it out, we prepare this ultimate Iowa sports betting guide. We will not just show you the best Iowa online betting sites: our review contains much useful legal information and universal tips for finding a decent sportsbook.
Our favorite licensed Iowa online sportsbooks
Here is the list of sportsbooks that you can legally join in Iowa. They all have a local betting license and provide gamblers with a generous selection of sports markets, competitive odds, great user and customer experiences, and top-notch mobile apps. Most of them are available as retail bookies, too.
The latest news concerning sports betting in Iowa are mainly related to the unprecedented revenues: the state keeps beating all possible records in terms of net profits that newly established bookmakers collect monthly. Besides, new bookies keep entering the Iowa sports betting market and providing bettors with wider gambling opportunities, while the government is working on new amendments and regulations.
In the next block, we will overview the most essential news related to sports betting in Iowa, give you some figures, and dive a bit into the Iowa sports betting history.
Iowa sports betting revenues
When Iowa sports betting just started, and Caesar entered the market as the first Iowan legal online betting site, the authorities saw a sudden and almost unexpected revenue boost. It turned out that Iowa, the eleventh state to make sports betting legal, is becoming one of the most powerful markets in the USA: the first year showed a two times gambling revenue boost compared to 2019.
The latest statistics shows that Iowa keeps beating new and new records: for instance, October 2021 fixed a record of $280,9 mil, and November profits increased to 2,3%, with 287,2 million. Besides, November revenues resulted in 17,3% of all taxes paid by sportsbooks since the legalization in August 2019.
What’s even more interesting, is that the revenues have grown so significantly after a law amendment. Before January 2021, all Iowa bettors had to visit a retail sportsbooks to register at the sports betting app. Obviously, it affected the number of customers: why going to some place when you can safely use offshore sites with remote registration?
Yes, Iowa legalized online and retail betting: Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is responsible for licensing local sportsbooks and famous brands that want to operate within the state. Of course, it was not a decision made overnight: the legalization process took approximately two years.
In this part of our review, we will consider how offline and digital betting was developing and what does the current situation looks like. So, what are the legal sports betting options, and how does the whole gambling market work in the Hawkeye state?
Legal gambling options in Iowa
Iowa does not allow all types of gambling. There are particular restrictions, so sports betting has become the most popular entertainment option: it has almost no limitations, especially from the beginning of 2021. To make things easier, we prepared a list of what is allowed and what is not.
Sports Betting: you can gamble at online sportsbooks or use their sports betting apps licensed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. All sportsbooks licensed in Iowa cooperate with offline casinos, so you can opt for retail bookmakers, too. An alternative option is using offshore sportsbooks. Obviously, Iowa authorities don’t stimulate such solutions, but there is no particular punishment for betting on sports at some foreign platforms;
Horse Racing and Greyhounds: betting on events involving animals races is available only on tracks; online betting is prohibited;
Casino: online casinos are still prohibited for Iowa bettors, but gamblers can visit brick-and-mortar venues instead. There are nineteen offline casinos, with most of them offering retail sports betting facilities;
Daily Fantasy Sports: like all the other states, Iowa allows betting on Daily Fantasy Sports;
Poker: poker sites are prohibited in Iowa; as an alternative, players can use sweepstakes poker options online.
Legalization Effort In Iowa
It all started in 2018, when the PASPA law was repealed. PASPA, The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, totally banned sports betting across the USA, with some rare exceptions like Nevada. It meant that all sports wagering activities went to the grey zone: US players still placed bets at some offshore sportsbooks, which obviosly did not generate any sports betting revenue for the state.
The repealing of the PASPA law implied that every state became responsible for its betting laws. In simple words, it’s up to every state, whether it wants to legalize sports betting or not.
The first attempt to legalize Iowa sports betting was taken in February 2018: the first bill draft successfully passed the Iowa House subcommittee with substantial support from the NBA and NFL lobbies. However, legalization was still far from settling down: the bill was supposed to go through a number of amendments. Most of these amendments were facing anti-money laundering and anti-match fixing protection, so the final bill version was released no earlier than next year.
Let’s see how was legalization going and how the initial law was different from the current one.
Iowa Betting Legalization Timeline
As you already know, lawmakers suggested the first sports betting bill in 2018. The following timeline includes the following major milestones:
May 2019: Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Governor, approved bill SF617. After she signed the bill, sports betting was officially legalized;
June 2019: Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission began to accept licensing applications;
August 2019: The first sportsbook app became available for sports bettors in Iowa: this trailbraker was Caeasars. Besides launching the app, it also signed with local offline gambling venues to engage retail bettors as well. The casinos offering Caesars sports betting odds are the Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino, the Lakeside Casino, the Isle Casino Waterloo and the Isle Casino Bettendorf. Caesars accepted the first legal wagers in Iowa on August 15;
August 2019-September 2021: twelve more legal sportsbooks opened its doors to Iowa gamblers. The list includes BetMGM, Unibet, the Scorebet, Q Sportsbook, PointsBet, Hard Rock Sportsbook, Elite Sportsbook, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, BetFred, and Bally Bet;
January 2021: the government allowed online remote registration for all sportsbooks which caused a significant profits increase.
How Iowa Compares To Other States?
Basically, Iowa doesn’t have any specific betting rules that makes it different from the other states. Like all thirteen states allowing betting on sports, Iowa prohibits college sports props. However, compared to some regions like Illinois, Iowa is okay with wagers on home college sports teams. Still, you can’t make any sports bets if you are related to a college, or any professional sports team or organization. Again, this rule is not unique and perfectly suits the aim of match-fixing protection.
The legal gambling age in Iowa is 21, so underaged bettors can safely wager on sports somewhere outside the state: in, say, Illinois or Indiana.
How do we rate online bookmakers
As you already know, Iowa is home to thirteen licensed sportsbooks. It makes offshore betting a pretty useless thing: why would anyone opt for foreign sites if there is plenty of choice in-shore? Still, sharp bettors might look for college props or alternative payment options, and offshore betting remains a solution for them.
No matter what you prefer, your online sportsbook must be a safe and legal place. To help you choose the right gambling platform, we prepared a brief guide. It is about our experts’ experience: we will show you how we choose and rate online betting sites and explain what you can expect from our list of the best Iowan sportsbooks.
Legality in your area
No matter where you live: your sportsbook must be legal in your area. More precisely, your state, country, city, or region has to allow online sports betting: otherwise, your experience will illegal anyway. Thus, if you live in Iowa, you have a limited (not small, though) number of betting sites you can safely use. We suppose they are better to protect you more: you won’t file any complaints to a local gambling commission of Iowa, if someone stole money from your offshore sports betting account.
Thus, our list contains sites working under the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission license. Again, offshore sportsbooks are not totally illegal, but they operate beyond the government’s control. If you still want to join some foreign bookies like Bovada or Bet Online, make sure that the brand you chose has a relevant gambling license of some offshore gambling authorities. It might be Curacao, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, etc. — the main point is to have sports betting accounts at regulated sites.
Real-money gambling involves regular deposits and withdrawals. As a bettor, you want this process to be as quick and smooth as possible. Thus, when you opt for one or another betting site, don’t forget to check out the cashier section. If you gamble at legal Iowa sports betting sites, you will hardly face any issues with banking methods. Industry giants like DraftKings, PointsBet, etc. always manage to give all sorts of convenient options, including cash deposits.
However, if you come across some offshore bookie and it offers nothing but some doubtful methods like Western Union, we don’t recommend you to join. In fact, the list of banking systems available at a website is a good indicator.
It shows how trusted the sportsbook is: if it cooperates with world-famous reputable companies like Visa, Mastercard, or PayPal, it’s most likely a legit and safe place.
In other words, respectable companies would not sign with a shady bookmaker without a license and at least a minimum control from any gambling commission.
Most Popular Banking Options in Iowa
Keeping with the payments theme, we think it might be useful to show you what are the most popular banking systems used for sports betting. We don’t mention cryptocurrencies here: you won’t find them at legal Iowa-licensed online bookmakers. However, the list is pretty impressive and involves the most popular and convenient options, widely used among the US bettors.
A small note before you look at the table: we don’t indicate the maximum deposit as it may depend on various factors. Normally, bookies don’t limit you in how much you pay to them. However, all of them has a deposit limit option, that you set yourself. For instance, you decide that your monthly bankroll is $500 and you indicate this limit in your sports betting account. As a result, a sportsbook will not accept more funds from you.
Who would refuse from a gift, especially if it is some free cash? Many sharp bettors feel little excitement about bonuses. They are always related to some wagering requirements, so you can’t just take your money and go. However, recreational gamblers always appreciate lucrative offers. Thus, we prepared a selection of the most generous bookmakers who willingly share some free bets or boosted odds with customers.
Before we show you what you can get as a bonus, let’s speak about the most popular options. You’ll come across them at most sites, so it’s helpful to get at least a rough idea of how they work.
Welcome Bonus: a special offer for new customers. You can use it only once, when you make your first deposit, or place your first wager. However, some bookies expand the offer for the first two, three, four, or even five deposits. The most traditional welcome bonus is a certain match to your deposit: for instance, if you top up your account for $100, a 100% first deposit bonus brings you $100 more;
A Risk-Free Bet: this bonus can also come as a welcome offer. When you make your first bet, and it loses, a sportsbook refunds you a particular amount. In fact, you don’t risk your own money when you use free bets. Many bookies offer free bets within some promotions: for instance, if you wager on NFL games on particular weekdays;
Boosted Odds: this promotion gives you access to lowered margins and higher pricing. Usually, bookmakers offer boosted odds for one-five betting markets per day and such offers reduces margin to 1%-2%;
Parlay Insurance: if you are keen on multiple bets, but keep losing, Parlay Insurances can help you a bit. The most popular variant of a Parlay insurance is when your parlay wins despite one losing selection;
Referral program: it’s easy — you recommend a sportsbook to your friend, and a sportsbook rewards you with some free cash or free bets. Your friend usually gets some gifts, too.
Best Betting Bonuses in Iowa
Now it’s time to see what exactly you can get a Iowa sportsbooks: we gathered the bonuses that we find the most exciting for new and existing customers.
Up to $1,050
First Deposit Bonus Match
Up to $1,000
First Bet Match
Up to $1,001
First Deposit Bonus
Up to $250
2 risk free bets
Up to $2,000
Mobile app availability
It’s nine out of ten that you will make most of your sports wagers via your smartphone. If we are right, you’d better check if your sports betting site has a good mobile version, or, what is better, a native app. Luckily, all Iowa legal sportsbooks released apps: betting in the USA is mainly associated with mobile experience, so you’ll hardly have any issues.
However, if you opt for some offshore bookmaker that doesn’t have dedicated app, make sure it at least adapted its mobile sports betting site for smartphones and tablets. In most cases, a good mobile version is more than enough to make a couple of bets, but the downloadable app has its advantages. For instance, an app can send you alerts when a live event starts, or notify you when a team scores.
Best Iowa Betting Apps
Thanks to the new legislation, you can download an app and sign up to a sportsbooks without leaving your coach. Still, you must be physically located in Iowa to get one of the apps we’ll mention in this selection. Otherwise, you won’t find any of the mentioned app in AppStore or Google Play.
This list of the best Iowa sports betting apps involve the ones with the best user ratings, intuitive design, and of course lucrative betting offer, including bonuses.
What sports are most popular among Iowa bettors?
Iowa shows extremely growing betting revenues, so it’s obviously a home of a very dedicated sports fan base. Interestingly, it doesn’t host any professional sports franchises: Iowa can’t be proud of an NFL, NHL, MLB, or NBA teams.
However, like in most states, Iowan bettors show a high demand of sports wagers on the four major American leagues. Although tennis, MMA, motor racing, volleyball, or soccer make a certain share of the whole revenue, the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL bets remain on the top. Still, the major interest of Iowa bettors is the collegiate sports: the local college teams compensate for the lack of professional ones.
Sportsbooks that know the bettors’ needs do their best to meet them and offer the best coverage for the top popular markets. Thus, it turns out that betting on NFL is much more lucrative than opting for some niche sports or bet types: the best odds and bonuses come for the most demanded sports.
Iowa NFL teams
Despite being out of the competition, Iowa still loves football. Among the top popular NFL teams in Iowa are the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears. All games involving these top-three franchises gather much profit for sportsbooks, while the Super Bowl remains one of the most important events of the Hawkee state.
Luckily, local sportsbook give great pre-match and live lines for NFL betting in Iowa. Bettors can choose from standard money lines, spread, and totals betting, or try their luck with unusual props or complicated parlays.
Iowa NBA teams
The times of the Waterloo Hawks, the only professional team in Iowa, has long gone. However, NBA fandom in Iowa is flourishing, and locals willingly support the Milwaukee Bucks, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and other franchises from the nearest states. Betting on away-teams might be even more exciting: you don’t feel the need of backing your state even when it’s a heavy underdog. Thus, various betting options for NBA games are in high demand in Iowa.
Iowa MLB teams
The first club that comes to mind when you speak about MLB in Iowa, is Chicago Cubs. More than 30 percent baseball fans claim the Cubs to be their favorites, so no wonder MLB markets involving Chicago bring considerable revenues over and over again. MLB betting is available in pre-match and live modes, and Iowans willingly invest their money to support Illinois or just stay in the middle of the overall fun.
Iowa College sports teams
The list of the athletics college programs in Iowa is large enough to compensate for the absence of professional franchises. It includes NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, and NCCAA teams. The most popular ones are from the NCCA Division I: Drake Bulldogs, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, and Northern Iowa Panthers, competing for the titles in college basketball, football, baseball, softball, soccer, and more.
Although legal Iowa sportsbooks prohibit prop bets on college sports, you can safely wager on local teams, or use offshore bookies with no limits in wager types.
Iowa Retail Sportsbooks
As you know, almost all Iowa online betting sites are also available as retail betting venues. So, where can you go in Iowa to feel the spirit of the good old-fashioned offline bookmakers? Here is the complete list of casinos and racing tracks with sports betting facilities:
Caesars Sportsbook: Isle Bettendorf, Isle Bettendorf, Horseshoe Casino, Prairie Meadows, Grand Falls, Harrah’s Council Bluffs;
Elite Sportsbook: Grand Falls, Rhythm City, Riverside;
Q Sportsbook: Q Casino;
DraftKings: Wild Rose Casinos in Clinton, Jefferson, and Emmertsburg;
BetFred: Grand Falls;
BetMGM: Diamond Jo Worth;
theScore Bet: Ameristar;
Hard Rock Sportsbook: Hard Rock Sioux City.
More online sportsbooks may open for retail betting in Iowa, so follow the updates!
Iowa sports betting legalization greatly impacted the state’s revenues and was a big help during the pandemics, when offline casinos were forced to close. All chances that it will develop further: new and new sportsbooks are entering on the scene. With a great combination of offline and retail sportsbooks, Iowa might be the next best gambling market in the USA, and we will keep an eye on the legislation changes and updates.
What is the best Iowa Sportsbook?
The best sportsbook is the one you love the most, but our selection contains the most trusted, entertaining, and user-friendly online betting options for Iowa bettors. Among them are industry giants like DraftKings or Fanduel, and more niche sites like the Elite Sportsbook.
What gambling apps are legal in Iowa?
The full list includes BetMGM, Unibet, the Scorebet, Q Sportsbook, PointsBet, Hard Rock Sportsbook, Elite Sportsbook, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, BetFred, and Bally Bet. All of these bookies available as websites or mobile apps and have Iowa Gambling and Racing Commission licenses.
Does BetMGM work in Iowa?
Yes, BetMGM went live in Iowa on January 4, 2021. You can opt for a website or MGM mobile betting app, or visit the retail sportsbook in the Diamond Jo Worth casino.
Is DraftKings sportsbook legal in Iowa?
DraftKings opened its doors to Iowa gamblers in 2020 as the Wild Rose Casinos chain partner. Besides mobile betting, it offers offline facilities in Clinton, Emmetsburg, and Jefferson.
Last updated on 01 Nov 2022- 12:54
Author: Harry Sunderland
As a former successful professional bettor, Harry Sunderland has developed analytical thinking skills helping him to make the right picks for sports events. His specific interest in MMA allows him to provide ... the readers with accurate ideas and create comprehensive guides and reviews on the UFC fights and combatants. Being a huge Soccer fan, Sunderland has much to tell readers about the game nuances and the most probable match outcomes.Show more
Get bets with a yield of 100-700% delivered straight to your inbox!