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Sports Gambling In Iowa Will Kick Off In August

Iowa Racing and Gaming commissioner Julie Andres moves to approve a casino's sports betting license at a meeting in West Des Moines.
Grant Gerlock
Iowa Racing and Gaming commissioner Julie Andres moves to approve a casino's sports betting license at a meeting in West Des Moines.

Iowa casinos are making preparations to take their first wagers on sporting events starting at noon on Aug. 15. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved the final rules for sports gambling at its meeting Tuesday. The commission also gave initial approval to 18 casinos that had applied for sports gambling licenses.

Before casinos officially start taking bets, they will each meet with the IRGC to go over their plans to verify that bettors are old enough to gamble and are located within state boundaries.

People must register at one of the licensed casinos before they can place a bet. IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko said that could provide a boost for casinos with declining attendance.

“From a revenue standpoint, we’re not seeing significant additional revenue in some of the other states where sports has been authorized, but it definitely has increased the traffic,” Ohorilko said.

Prairie Meadows in Altoona plans to be ready to take wagers on-site at the start.

“The very first day, Aug. 15, at noon, we expect to take the first bet, so we’re excited,” said chief strategic officer Brad Rhines, adding that the casino has dedicated more than 8,000 square feet of space for its sports betting operation, which will be run by the sports book company William Hill. Other casinos are making similar arrangements with national and international sports betting operators.

While not all casinos will be ready on the first day, most are expected to start taking wagers in-person by the end of August when the college football season starts. Mobile wagering is likely to take longer to bring online in many cases.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the law legalizing sports gambling for people in Iowa over 21 years old in May, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban.

Iowa’s law allows people to wager money in online fantasy sports competitions and to bet on professional sports, college games, motorsports, Olympic events, and FIFA tournaments. There are some restrictions, though. Wagers are not allowed on minor leagues, for instance, and people cannot bet on individual athletes in a game including an Iowa college or university.

Grant Gerlock is a reporter covering Des Moines and central Iowa