July 30, 2019 4 min read


Iowa Debates Last Minute Sports Betting to Start in August

  • Iowa to decide whether to launch sports betting
  • Administrators concerned about companies not complying with guidelines
  • Iowa would be the third fully-regulated and operation state with sports betting to have passed its legislation in 2019

Can Iowa launch its sports betting industry on time for the National Football League season in September?

Iowa Hours Away from Legalizing Sports Betting

Gambling regulators and lawmakers are drawing closer to giving Iowa its first sports betting venue, with some final tuning still left to do. Will sports wagers arrive in August is only a question of whether the state’s authorities are happy with the progress that has been achieved so far.

Success would make Iowa the third state to have approved sports betting legislation in 2019, after Montana and Indiana.

Pending the approval, Iowa is poised to become the latest state where sports betting is legalized, giving 3.2 million people an opportunity to place a wager on sporting contests. If the Hawkeye State gets an official go-ahead today, July 30, lawmakers will have to agree on which operators to be issued a license and which ones will be turned down.

This decision is also expected to take place today. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds gave his approval for the legalization of sports betting in the state in May. With the governor’s backing, the state should see 18 gaming facilities, offering an opportunity to place a wager in person or via mobile.

As part of the bill, the Racing and gaming Commission (IRGC) will now be in charge of creating the legislation which will create the statures that will dictate the rhythm of the industry.

Big Windfall for the Hawkeye State

Iowa has quite a few reasons to hope for a timely legislation of its industry, with the state planning ahead for the NFL Season which kicks off in September. With the United States generating $5 billion in total sports betting handle, new entrants are poised to benefit. With the framework already created, a final approval is all that would take, and then the big money could follow. When Gov. Reynolds signed the bill, American Gaming Association (AGA) Director Sara Slane had this to say:

The state of Iowa has set its legal sports betting market up for success with a reasonable tax rate, mobile wagering, strong consumer protections and provisions that put responsible gaming at the forefront. Through the leadership of champions like Iowa Gaming Association President and CEO Wes Ehrecke, Iowans will now have a safe alternative to the illegal market that has thrived in the Hawkeye State and across the country.

There are reasons for concern as well, of course. For starters, Brian Ohorilko, an administrator at IRGC fears that Iowa is trying to jump the gun, pushing operators to come up with solutions ahead of a tight schedule, which would result into none of the companies being able to comply with the established guidelines in the first place.

Among the companies that have applied for a license are Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs and Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino which may yet come short of obtaining a proper license. Meanwhile, the Commission has chosen a date for a potential launch, August 15, which gives companies a very narrow schedule to meet.

What is SF617?

Gov. Reynolds signed the comprehensive SF617 on May 13, making Iowa the third state to have done so in 2019. Here are what the specifics of the new law that is now possibly hours from launching the state for official sports betting business:

  • 6.75% tax on all sports betting revenue
  • $45,000 licensing fee and $100,000 renewal fee
  • Mobile betting within the state
  • Two digital skins can be applied per single license
  • All mobile betting should be conducted by customers who have registered in-person
  • The IRGC will regulate the industry

The tax and licensing terms of the state are quite lax compared to other states, allowing local operators to stay competitive and operate while observing the state’s standards.

A number of high-profile sports books have already lined up in the state, including DFS companies DraftKings and FanDuel, British powerhouse William Hill and PointsBet.


Simon is a freelance writer who specializes in gambling news and has been an author in the poker/casino scene for 10+ years. He brings valuable knowledge to the team and a different perspective, especially as a casual casino player.

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