Iowa Sports Betting

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for individual states to legalize sports gambling by ruling in favor of New Jersey and eliminating the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) on May 14, 2018.

That ruling came just a bit late for sports gambling lobbyists in Iowa.

As one of 18 states that introduced legislation to allow sports gambling prior to the SCOTUS ruling, Iowa officials were ready and willing to move on the budding industry, but legislation sessions ended a week prior and Gov. Kim Reynolds declined for a special session to vote on the 2018 bill.

Republican Jake Highfill reportedly led the charge in February 2018 on House Bill 2448, which specified legalizing gambling but left out plenty of specifics on tax revenue and regulatory processes.

As written, the bill would permit sports gambling in the state’s 19 casinos and horse racing tracks. It would have also allowed for wagers on all professional and collegiate sports teams (including those in state) and mobile betting. Casinos would pay $25,000 for a sports betting license and a $15,000 renewal each year.

The fact that bill did not include integrity fees for professional sports leagues such as the MLB and NBA could create potential adversaries, but it seemed to gain traction from both parties in the Iowa state house and should have the backing of the Iowa State Lottery when sports betting bills are proposed anew in 2019.

The Iowa Gaming Association is also on board with Highfill’s bill and would likely serve as the regulatory board for the new industry.
With a bill that received nearly unanimous approval already in place, Iowa legislators could move quickly on legalizing sports gambling when sessions resume in January of 2019. The process of establishing sports books and regulatory boards to oversee mobile and land-based betting could follow within a few months.

Sports Betting FAQ

When will sports betting be legal in Iowa?

Any legislation that would legalize sports gambling in Iowa must be re-introduced when legislative sessions resume in January of 2019. Betting on sports could be legal by the end of 2019.

Where can I place sports bets in Iowa?

Currently, nowhere. But the proposed bill from February of 2018 would allow residents to bet in the state’s 19 casinos, as well as horse racing tracks, some private businesses and online.

What sports teams could I bet on in Iowa?

Under the current proposal, residents would be able to bet on any professional and collegiate sports teams. That includes the two major colleges in the state, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

Who would oversee Iowa sports betting?

The Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) would likely regulate and oversee the sports betting industry.

Can I get into trouble for placing bets with unregulated online sportsbooks?

Yes, in order for a sportsbook to be legal it must be sanctioned by the state and placing bets with an unregulated bookkeeper can result in fines and potential jail time. While there’s yet to be an occurrence of this in the U.S., it’s safer to place your bets on regulated betting sites.