Sports betting enthusiasts in the Hawkeye State are one week away from the launch of legal wagering. That’s the word from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) anyway, after the regulatory agency approved “emergency” rules to facilitate Iowa legal sportsbooks going live by August 15.
In a recent interview with Legal Sports Report, Brian Ohorilko – who serves as administrator of the IRGC – predicted the first Iowa legal sportsbooks would go live on schedule:
“I think the majority of casinos in Iowa will have their brick and mortar operations ready to roll on August 15. It may not be expansive sports betting. For some, it may be a situation where they have kiosks and a few tellers, but it looks like many of them are planning on having something ready on that first day.”
The Iowa legislature voted to legalize sports betting, in both brick and mortar and online / mobile formats, in a whirlwind six-day process which culminated on April 22. Three weeks passed before Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 617 into law, but the executive endorsement encouraged lawmakers to take the fast-track towards implementation.
Football betting is another factor motivating Iowa to roll out regulated sports betting as quickly as possible.
As he explained to Legal Sports Report in July, Ohorilko and the IRGC targeted August 15 as Iowa’s preferred launch date in order to beat the start of college football season:
“It was important for the industry to be able to offer sports betting by NFL season, but college football is king here in Iowa and that season is even a little earlier. If entities are ready to go, they’ll have the opportunity to work out any bugs before the NFL season starts.”
NCAA football kicks off on Saturday, August 24, with the Iowa Hawkeyes beginning play on August 31 against the University of Miami (Ohio).
NFL football gets underway on Thursday, September 5, with the full Week 1 slate of games taking place the following Sunday.
Football is traditionally the leading economic engine for sportsbooks, and in a non-NFL state like Iowa, the college game reigns supreme for sports bettors and bookmakers alike.
Per his comments to Legal Sports Report, Ohorilko believes both brick and mortar and online / mobile wagering will be available by the August 15 launch date.
“The operators sitting in a real good place right now essentially completed those as they came out. Talking to operators, if there’s any delay in retail operations we’re talking about just a few weeks. But with respect to mobile, that range is varied to from being ready right away to some companies not launching until 2020.”
He listed five licensed casinos as ready to offer online / mobile betting from the onset, with the PointsBet-operated bet shop at Catfish Bend Casino joined by four William Hill-operated books at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Lakeside Hotel Casino, Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf, and Isle Casino Waterloo. Prairie Meadows inked a deal with the U.K.-based William Hill – which ranks as the largest sportsbook operator in Nevada – back in January.
Speaking with Casino.org, Prairie Meadow’s assistant director of pari-mutuels Garrick Mallory confirmed that a dual launch on Day 1 is in the works:
“They have every intention of having the mobile operating as soon as the sportsbook opens.”