Bettor up, Iowa.
Legal sports wagering is here in the Hawkeye State.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed legislation passed in late April to allow betting on select college, professional and fantasy sports games through Iowa's 19 casinos and other licensed national services starting before the fall football seasons.
The Iowa Racing and Commission approved rules that include a start date of Aug. 15 at noon for casinos to take bets, although some casinos may choose to begin their sportsbook operations at a later date.
The state will collect 6.75% in taxes on whatever is left over once bets have been settled.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know as we figuratively get ready to play ball.
[Editor's note: Your question not answered below? Contact author Danny Lawhon on Twitter or via email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try and fill in the gaps.]
DAY 1 REPORT:Setting the scene at Prairie Meadows in Altoona
Where can I physically place bets?
Of-age gamblers (21 and older) from any state can place wagers in person at any of Iowa's 19 casinos that offer a sportsbook. As of July 30, 18 of those 19 casinos have plans for a physical space dedicated to these wagers.
Casinos must pay a $45,000 licensing fee to offer sports wagering and then a $10,000 annual renewal fee. They must also submit plans for expansions or renovations to their property specific to sports wagering.
Prairie Meadows in Altoona has already completed that process, having unveiled its transformation of a fourth-floor horse racing simulcast area into a sportsbook and bar.
In Burlington, Catfish Bend Casino inked a partnership with Australian sports betting company PointsBet and is creating a 5,000-square-foot sportsbook as part of a renovation project.
Other establishments are in various stages of establishing third-party gaming relationships and obtaining licenses and will continue to do so over the next several months, according to Iowa Gaming Association president and CEO Wes Ehrecke.
"We were all unified on getting this passed, and their interest was unifying in offering (sports wagering) once it was passed," Ehrecke said. "I'm pretty confident in saying all our casinos have an interest in wanting to offer this to their patrons."
A list of licensed Iowa casinos for sports wagering:
- Ameristar Casino, Council Bluffs
- Catfish Bend, Burlington
- Diamond Jo, Dubuque
- Diamond Jo Worth, Northwood
- Grand Falls Casino, Larchwood
- Hard Rock Sioux City, Sioux City
- Harrah's Council Bluffs, Council Bluffs
- Horeshoe Council Bluffs, Council Bluffs
- Isle, Bettendorf
- Isle, Waterloo
- Lakeside Hotel & Casino, Osceola
- Prairie Meadows, Altoona
- Q Casino, Dubuque
- Rhythm City Casino, Davenport
- Riverside Casino, Riverside
- Wild Rose, Clinton
- Wild Rose, Emmetsburg
- Wild Rose, Jefferson
Prairie Meadows recently finished renovations and is ready to open the states first sports book once the Legislature approves it. Des Moines Register
When can I start betting?
The state commission was tasked with governing this new arm of gambling in the state once the law was signed by Reynolds, and a draft of rules for the licensing process, the posting of odds and payouts, how money will flow through players' accounts and how information about problem gambling can be provided was put forth in mid-July. They went through a public hearing before final commission approval on July 30.
Can I place bets with casinos online/with my phone?
In many cases, yes. For any casino that offers mobile wagering, gamblers can establish accounts online if they first visit an establishment in person to prove their age and identity.
Through its partnership with William Hill, the nation's largest sportsbook operator, Prairie Meadows aimed to have a working mobile app for wagering on the first day of legal betting, said Brad Rhines, the casino's senior vice president and chief strategic officer.
UPDATED, Aug. 15: William Hill CEO Joe Asher said in Des Moines that the company still in the process of getting its app for mobile sports betting into the app store. He expects it to be available on Android Thursday or early Friday. The Apple version should be available within two weeks.
In order to use a casino's mobile app, customers must first make a physical visit to the casino and establish their identity to be given a valid account.
To that end, the casino also plans to promote advanced sign-up periods for gamblers who will want to have the app pre-downloaded on their devices and ready for use on the first day of allowable wagering. The app must first pass logistical and security clearances before being made available in online stores and before the casino will promote customers' ability to sign up.
"We will be in a good position to be going right out of the gate," Rhines said. "We're aiming to make things as streamlined as possible."
Among those streamlining steps involves the casino's hope to use an advanced-deposit wagering process, which the state has previously legalized for Prairie Meadows' thoroughbred races. Such a service would allow users to feed their accounts for remote betting without having to continually visit the casino.
Once in use, the app will work anywhere in the state. It will not function outside of state borders, however, even in other states that may also have legalized sports wagering. Any transactions across state lines violates the Federal Wire Act.
What about daily fantasy sites, such as DraftKings and FanDuel?
These games would be legal under the current legislation. Online and mobile fantasy sports games will have the same 6.75% tax that regular casinos will take on as well.
Previously, Iowa was one of five states (along with Arizona, Louisiana, Montana and Washington) that had specific legislation banning games that involve any manner of chance.
Daily fantasy contests related to the NFL are not immediately available but should be available by opening kickoff Sept. 5, according to Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission director of gaming Brian Ohorilko. The final version of the bill places a moratorium on daily college football fantasy contests until May of 2020.
What events and sports can I bet on?
Generally speaking, many American professional and college sporting events should be available for wagering. Categories of events that have a blanket ban are high school, minor league and amateur sports.
From that starting point, it is up to individual oddsmakers which events they will offer for betting. Put simply, most any NFL game would be available for wagering, but a Grecian soccer match or even a college basketball game between Pepperdine and Portland might not be.
"(Sports books only) have so many resources, so they can only offer so many bets. So sometimes the books, they have to pick and choose what they offer," Ohorilko said. "Sometimes, unless it’s a major college game, sometimes the college games get left off. Or, they’re not left off, but there are betting limits to not expose too much risk."
Rhimes said at Prairie Meadows, William Hill's slate of available wagers will be as complete as is possible.
"You will see their full plate and offering" of wagers and legal prop bets, he said. "If somebody wants action on something that doesn't exist ... they'll look into it and could well place the bet."
UPDATED Aug. 16: Here's a list of sports you can immediately expect to wager on. The IRGC's copy of this list is in table form here.
- NCAA football — Money line (winners), point spreads (by how much will someone win), over/unders (total points in a game), futures (season-long bets), team proposition bets (in-game, statistics-based wagers), player proposition bets (where applicable; see next item below)
- NCAA basketball — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props (where applicable)
- NCAA baseball — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props (where applicable)
- NFL — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props
- NBA — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props
- MLB — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props
- NHL — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props
- MLS — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props
- WNBA — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props
- UFC — Money line, futures
- Boxing — Money line, futures
- Tennis— Money line, futures
- PGA, LPGA and European Tours— Money line, futures, head-to-head (individual contests between two players pre-determined by the sportsbook), player props
- NASCAR— Money line, futures, head-to-head, player props
- Formula One and IndyCar — Money line, futures, head-to-head
- International soccer (FIFA competitions, UEFA competitions, English Premier League, French Ligue 1/2, La Liga, Italian Serie A/B, Bundesliga — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props, player props (Bundesliga not included)
- "Minor league" football (Canadian Football League, Arena Football League, XFL) — Money line, point spreads, over/unders, futures, team props
Don't see your sport on the list? Fear not. According to the state commission: "Any wager offering not explicitly stated for which a sports wagering facility operator or advance deposit sports wagering operator would like to offer, should be submitted by application to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission for investigation and approval."
Translated, that means the state just wanted a good working list to start with, and wagering options will quickly grow more robust.
What limits exist on in-game wagers?
Among the specific provisions in the bill passed by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Reynolds is that in-game proposition bets involving college players either on Iowa teams or teams competing against Iowa schools are prohibited.
But professional prop bets — such has how many points LeBron James might score in a game or how many catches Odell Beckham Jr. might make in a half — will all be fair game. And certain select college prop bets might be available, too, for non-Iowa athletes who might really move the needle.
At that point, interest is what will drive available wagers in a location that isn't Las Vegas.
"Just from a practical standpoint, the books still need to offer those wagers," Ohorilko said. "So it’s much more common for prop bets for individual performances to be offered for NFL teams, for NBA teams."
As for physical monetary limits, those terms are up to individual sports books to set. However, individual users may set up limits on their mobile accounts to prevent overreactions to losing big, or even winning big.
Why won't many of my bets offer 100% profit if I win?
If you haven't bet (legally) before, know that in most cases you'll be putting up your own money from the start. Big-box outfits may offer you an introductory credit to make some initial bets, but you'll be bankrolling yourself over time.
Remember, too, that just because you place a bet on a team to win doesn't mean you'll collect the same amount of money if your bet is successful.
For example, if you bet $20 on Iowa to cover its line as a 5.5-point underdog in its football game against Wisconsin this year and were victorious, you won't suddenly find $20 of profit in your pocket. The standard practice is that a casino or bookmaker takes at least 10% of the bet as the vigorish, otherwise known as the "vig" or the "juice." That's the bookmaker's cut of allowing you to make the bet.
So that $20 bet would net you $38 on a 10% vigorish rate. Such arrangements are why a oddsmaker's general goal is to create a betting line that will theoretically split the betting room. That way, the sportsbook will be turning a profit, no matter the result.
Thus, because of the juice, bettors must cash at least 52.4% of their wagers (and not 50%) over time to break even.
Does legal sports betting change anything with my March Madness pools?
Iowa maintains a somewhat archaic but useful provision in its code on "social gambling." The particulars dig deep into the weeds, but know that workplace pools for the NCAA men's basketball tournament remain allowable under state law, with the following provisions:
- No participant wins or loses more than a total of $200 in one or more games at any time during any period of 24 consecutive hours.
- No person including the one organizing the bracket shall receive a take from the monies collected.
- All participants in the gambling are individuals, and no participant may participate as the agent of another person.
- A social relationship must exist between all participants involved.
- The game is conducted in a fair and honest manner.
- There is no minimum age to participate.
From a technical standpoint, be sure that no participant in this pool lives outside of Iowa, for the same federal restrictions that limit a mobile app's geographical footprint also govern these monetary transfers.
The Register's Stephen Gruber-Miller and Ian Richardson contributed to this report.