Iowa Online Gambling

Iowa gambling laws have fostered a substantial land-based casino industry. Iowa has 20 brick-and-mortar casinos, which is a lot for the state ranked 31st in population size. Iowa has three racinos, a state lottery which embraces Mega Millions and Powerball, and a large charitable gambling sector. Starting in 2017, Iowa has simulcasting and off-track betting — a sign the current legislature is ready to pass more gaming laws.

At the same time, Iowa has an expansive definition of gambling. Authorities also considered most form of unregulated gaming as illegal. With four degrees of illegality, the state is ready to enforce even minor offenses. With a hardline policy on online poker, daily fantasy sports, and other skill games, Iowa is state where players must think long and hard about unregulated gambling.

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Iowa State Gambling Laws

Laws That Pertain to Iowa Gambling

Iowa gambling laws do not distinguish between a player and an operator. The law does distinguish between the amount of wagering taking place, which obviously means operators tend to be more liable. High rollers are punished more in Iowa than most states, though.

Section 725.1(1)

A person shall not do any of the following:

  1. Participate in a game for any sum of money or other property of any value.
  2. Make any bet.
  3. For a fee, directly or indirectly, give or accept anything of value to be wagered or to be transmitted or delivered for a wager to be placed within or without the state of Iowa.

Almost any form of unregulated gambling is considered illegal, similar to Illinois and Indiana. In fact, Iowa’s definition of gambling is somewhat more expansive. Not only is risking a sum of money or other property gambling, but also giving or accepting anything of value (to make a wager) for a fee is considered gambling. This stipulation covers numbers running, but also would cover fees charged by poker clubs.

Presumably, Section 725.1 could be applied to online gambling sites. If a poker site, online sportsbook, or online casino charged fees of any kind and then offered gambling, it would fall under provisions of the law. In Iowa, players face charges of illegal gambling in “four degrees”. The more you wager, the higher your sentence. Gambling over $5000 is illegal gambling in the 1st degree. Wagering between $501 and $5000 is gambling in the 2nd degree. Betting between $101 and $500 is gambling in the 3rd degree, while risking $100 or less is considered gambling in the 4th degree.

Is Gambling Legal in the State of Iowa?

Yes, land-based forms of gambling are legal in Iowa, including casinos, racetracks, charitable gambling, and lottery ticket sales. Despite a few idiosyncratic laws involving illegal gambling, Iowa lawmakers stay firmly in the mainstream of American statutes when it comes to gambling.

Online gambling is a different matter. Despite attempts in 2012, 2013, and 2018, online poker is unlikely to be legalized anytime soon. An attempt to combine a sports betting and online gambling bill in 2019 has some chance of being passed. Iowa newspapers have endorsed such a move. It remains unlikely, because the revenue stream it would create does not appear great enough to offset the downsides: the costs of implementation, land-based casino revenue cannibalization, and perceived social costs.

Iowa Gambling Laws

Type of Gambling – Offered/Licensed? – Notes & Restrictions
  • Online Gambling – No – Online poker and casinos are banned.
  • Land-Based Casinos – Yes – 20 land-based casinos and 3 racinos.
  • Charitable Gaming – Yes – Both bingo licenses and social gambling licenses.
  • Lottery Betting – Yes – State Lottery (1985), Powerball (1988), Mega Millions (2010).
  • Minimum Gambling Age – 21 for all forms of gambling.

Is Online Poker Legal in Iowa?

Iowa Online Poker Laws

Iowa has not legalized online poker. In 2012, the Iowa Senate passed Senate File 2275 by a margin of 29-20, but the bill failed in the General Assembly. In 2013, the Senate Study Bill 1068 was introduced. Eventually, SSB 1068’s sponsors realized the Republican-controlled legislature would vote down the bill, so they let it die in committee.

In 2015, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) approved a study which showed that online gambling would generate $13 million a year in revenue for the state government. The IRGC report failed to win support, so no bill was introduced until 2018. An attempt to pass online gambling failed in 2018, but might be on the table in 2019 or 2020, due to the inclusion of a sports betting bill that would allow Iowa’s casinos to operate sportsbooks.

On January 15, 2019, The Gazette published an op-ed article by Adam Sullivan which made the case for Iowa to legalize online poker. Sullivan pointed out it is unlikely to happen, because of the large number of land-based casino operators in the state. It’s counterintuitive, but land-based casinos often oppose online gambling, because they think customers will stay home to play online poker and spend less than they would in their casinos.

In the case of Iowa, the land-based casino operators largely supported the sports betting and online gambling bill — but it failed anyway. Adam Sullivan wrote, “There was an unsuccessful bill in the Iowa Legislature last year (2018) to authorize sports betting in-person and online, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal statute that strictly limited states’ sports betting programs. Gaming lobbyists supported that bill, since it would have put the new system under control of existing licensees.”

It is not out of the realm of possibility that Iowa could pass online poker in the next few years, but it has a history of failure in the legislature.

Is Sports Betting / Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Iowa?

Sports betting is, in many ways, tied to online poker in Iowa. Since last year’s bill included sports betting and online gambling, it is natural to predict that a 2019 sports betting bill could include online poker and casino betting. Since the state’s land-based casinos supported last year’s bill after 5 years when no bill was introduced, it is likely that support stemmed from a hope for adding sportsbooks.

In that case, then Iowa lawmakers eventually might separate sports betting from online gambling. Sportsbooks in casinos might pass on its own accord, though such a bill might not be forthcoming until 2020 or later, when attempts at an omnibus gambling bill fail (if they fail). Iowa has more activity than some of its neighbors, though.

One point against sports betting legalization is Iowa’s attitude towards daily fantasy sports. Iowa’s legislature refuses to legalize DFS gaming. Worse, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fantasy Draft do not accept real money players from Iowa. As a good rule of thumb, when daily fantasy sports can’t pass in the legislature, sports betting is doomed.

Does Iowa have land-based casinos?

Iowa has more than its share of land-based casinos. It has 20 brick-and-mortar casinos, including tribal and commercial gaming operations. Indiana also has one horse track casino and two dog track casinos, for a total of 23 land-based casino operations in the state.

CASINOS

City Name Of Casino Address Phone Number Details
Bettendorf Isle Casino Hotel – Bettendorf 1777 Isle Parkway, Bettendorf, Iowa 52722-4967 (563) 359-7280 971 Gaming Machines, 19 Poker and Gaming Tables
Burlington Catfish Bend Casino 3001 Winegard Drive, Burlington, Iowa 52601-2061 (866) 792-9948 607 Gaming Machines, 5 Poker Tables, 20 Gaming Tables
Carter Lake Prairie Flower Casino Avenue H, Carter Lake, Iowa 51510 (402) 857-3391 N/A
Clinton Wild Rose Casino & Resort – Clinton 777 Wild Rose Drive, Clinton, Iowa 52732-7700 (563) 519-9000 565 Gaming Machines, 12 Poker and Gaming Tables
Council Bluff Ameristar Council Bluffs 2200 River Road, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501-7070 (712) 328-8888 1,512 Gaming Machines, 24 Poker and Gaming Tables
Council Bluffs Harrah’s Council Bluffs 1 Harrah’s Boulevard, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501-5680 (712) 329-6000 563 Gaming Machines, 22 Poker and Gaming Tables
Davenport Rhythm City Casino Resort 7077 Elmore Avenue, Davenport, Iowa 52807-3636 (563) 328-8000 797 Gaming Machines, 8 Poker Tables, 26 Gaming Tables
Dubuque Diamond Jo Casino – Dubuque 301 Bell Street, Dubuque, Iowa 52001-7004 (563) 690-4800 973 Gaming Machines, 20 Poker and Gaming Tables
Emmetsburg Wild Rose Casino & Resort -Emmetsburg 777 Main Street, Emmetsburg, Iowa 50536-1666 (712) 852-3400 489 Gaming Machines, 12 Poker and Gaming Tables
Jefferson Wild Rose Casino & Resort – Jefferson 777 Wild Rose Drive, US Highway 30 and Iowa Highway 4, Jefferson, Iowa 50129-2241 (515) 386-7777 512 Gaming Machines, 14 Poker and Gaming Tables
Larchwood Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort 1415 Grand Falls Boulevard, Larchwood, Iowa 51241-5000 (712) 777-7777 789 Gaming Machines, 8 Poker Tables, 27 Gaming Tables
Marquette Casino Queen Marquette 100 Antimonopoly Street, Highway 18 West, Marquette, Iowa 52158-7731 (563) 873-3531 525 Gaming Machines, 8 Poker and Gaming Tables
Northwood Diamond Jo Casino – Northwood 777 Diamond Jo Lane, Northwood, Iowa 50459-8801 (641) 323-7777 984 Gaming Machines, 7 Poker Tables, 26 Gaming Tables
Onawa Blackbird Bend Casino 17214 210th Street, Onawa, Iowa 51040-7600 (712) 423-9646 335 Gaming Machines, 1 Poker Table, 8 Gaming Tables
Osceola Lakeside Hotel Casino 777 Casino Drive, Osceola, Iowa 50213-8298 (641) 342-9511 829 Gaming Machines, 13 Poker and 20 Gaming Tables
Riverside Riverside Casino & Golf Resort 3184 Highway 22, Riverside, Iowa 52327-9690 (712) 226-7600 901 Gaming Machines, 29 Poker and Gaming Tables
Sloan WinnaVegas Casino Resort 1500 330th Street, Sloan, Iowa 51055-8056 (712) 428-9466 850 Gaming Machines, 3 Poker Tables, 10 Gaming Tables, 400 Bingo Seats, Race Book
Tama Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel 1504 305th Street, Tama, Iowa 52339-9697 (641) 484-2108 1,400 Gaming Machines, 10 Poker Tables, 22 Gaming Tables, 750 Bingo Seats, Race Book
Waterloo Isle Casino Hotel – Waterloo 777 Isle of Capri Boulevard, Waterloo, Iowa 50701-9265 (319) 833-4753 947 Gaming Machines, 4 Poker Tables, 26 Gaming Tables

Does Iowa have any legal betting tracks / shops?

Yes. Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino in Altoona, Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, and Q Casino & Hotel in Dubuque are the three racinos in the state. Prairie Meadows began as a horse track, while Horseshoe Casino and Q Casino began as greyhound parks. Casino gambling now is the main driver of revenue at each racino these days. Here are the three addresses of all three venues.

HORSE TRACK RACINO

City Name Of Casino Address Phone Number Details
Altoona Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino 1 Prairie Meadows Drive, Altoona, Iowa 50009-2100 (515) 967-1000 1,969 Gaming Machines, 10 Poker Tables, 46 Gaming Tables, Race Book

DOG TRACK RACINOS

City Name Of Casino Address Phone Number Details
Council Bluffs Horseshoe Casino – Council Bluffs 2701 23rd Avenue, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501-6968 (877) 771-7463 1,395 Gaming Machines, 18 Poker Tables, 51 Gaming Tables, Race Book
Dubuque Q Casino& Hotel 1855 Greyhound Park Road, Dubuque, Iowa 52001-2381 (563) 582-3647 830 Gaming Machines, 4 Poker Tables, 18 Gaming Tables

Does Iowa allow off-track betting?

Yes. Starting in 2017, Indiana’s legislature allowed simulcasting and off-track betting at facilities like Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Clinton and the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel at Tama. Races from famous US venues like Santa Anita Park, Aqueduct, Oak Lawn, and Keeneland are available in simulcasts with racebook betting. The racetrack casinos have off-track betting, as well.

Does Iowa allow charitable gambling?

Yes. The Social and Charitable Gambling Unit administers charitable gambling in Iowa according to provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 99B. Licensed educational, public, charitable, civic, religious, and patriotic can conduct charitable gambling for fundraising purposes. Those organizations can offer games of skill or games of chance, including bingo nights, raffles, social gambling (poker nights), and amusement devices.

Is Social gaming allowed in Iowa?

Yes. As noted above, charitable organizations can offer social gaming for fundraising purposes. Poker nights are acceptable if the organizer is licensed, while amusement devices are acceptable if those devices are registered. Iowa has an accepting stance towards most forms of gambling and social gaming is no different.

A social gambling license is required to host social gambling events. Small stakes card games and “parlor games” are allowed. The list of accepted social gambling games includes darts, billiards, poker, gin rummy, pinochle, cribbage, euchre, pepper (bid euchre), pitch, and hearts. If the gaming venue has a beer permit or a liquor license, it also can conduct sports betting pools.

Those with social gambling licenses cannot offer certain forms of charitable gambling. The list includes bingo, raffles, bookmaking (single-game sports bets), roll of the day, poker tournaments, poker runs, or casino-style games other than poker.

Readers might be confused about the allowance of small stakes poker above, but the banning of poker tournaments and poker runs. The distinction is between small, single-table poker games and freezeout tournaments with big prize pools and large fields of entrants. “Poker runs” require people to drive to 5 to 7 venues (usually on a motorcycle) to pick up a playing card for either draw poker or seven-card stud. Poker events which require multiple venues are banned for social gambling license holders.

Online social casinos like Double Down, Zynga, and Slotomania are available in Indiana. Big Fish Games accepts Indiana residents. MyVegas from MGM Resorts and Play4Fun from Mohegan Sun offer free-to-play casino gaming. Players even can win comps and other rewards at MGM Resorts or Mohegan Sun land-based casinos through freeplay gaming online.