Breakthrough Web Design - 641-201-1459 - Build Your Online Presence
News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the North Iowa Region
• Founded 2010

The State of Online Sports Betting in Iowa

This news story was published on March 25, 2019.
Advertise on NIT Subscribe to NIT

The U.S. federal law says gambling is legal, but it’s up to individual states to give the final verdict. Each of the 50 U.S. states has the right to make any form of gambling legal or illegal within its borders.

Some states, like Hawaii for example, prohibit all forms of gambling, including online betting. But, there are also some states like Delaware where the situation is the complete opposite.

Still, most states fall into the category somewhere between the two, allowing some forms of gambling, while banning others. So, what about Iowa? Let’s see what’s the legal status of online betting in the Hawkeye State!

Can You Bet Online in Iowa?

The answer is no, not yet. But, that’s about to change real soon. Last May, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a gambling law that Congress passed nearly 27 years ago, which allowed states to keep sports betting illegal. And as soon as the law was declared unconstitutional, a number of states started preparing the ground for making betting legal, Iowa included.

But the process is not that simple, it takes time. At the moment, Iowa’s sports betting bill is still being debated and the legislative session is scheduled for May 3, 2019. If it gets approved, Iowa will become a state where online betting is legal and regulated, which is good for both the state and the players.

From the state’s point of view, legalizing online betting is bound to bring a major boost to the budget through gambling tax. In return, the state and its authorities will play their part in ensuring the players from this state stay protected when betting online.

Once this form of gambling becomes legal in Iowa, the state will create a government body whose purpose will be to regulate online betting to make sure players are protected. This means that if a problem occurs, Iowa government will be there to help its players.

In order to get a gambling license, a sportsbook will need to meet many criteria in order to prove they’re trustworthy. Judging by the experience with how other states have handled it, only a handful of online sportsbooks are expected to get a license.

If you take a look at the list of licensed U.S. sportsbooks at, you will see that it’s rather short. While a limited choice is usually a bad thing, this is the result of a very strict selection process, which leads to only the very best sportsbooks being granted a gambling license in the United States.

What Happens if You Try to Bet Online in Iowa?

There are many online books that let the players from the U.S. register, no questions asked about their state of residence. What this basically mean is that if you want, you can create an account even if you’re from Iowa or some other state where online gambling is not legal.

But the question is will you be able to upload any funds there and use them for wagering on sports markets. The thing is that banks are obliged to comply with the gambling laws. In turn, this means that they might not allow you to deposit any funds from your bank account to your sportsbook account.

Sure, you may try circumvent the problem by using some kind of e-wallet, but this also not advisable. The reason is that you can get into problems with the law. Online gambling is misdemeanor in Iowa, so if you get caught you’re gonna face up to one year of jail time. The experience has shown that a scenario like that almost never happens, but the players who get caught do get, at most, some monetary fines.

For all these reasons, you better wait for Iowa to pass the legislation that will make online betting legal. It’s expected to happen in a few months’ time. But, if you can’t wait that long, you can always gamble on horse racing, which is completely legal in Iowa.

Legality of Online Horse Racing & Greyhound Betting

Right now, horse racing is the only type of online betting that’s not banned in Iowa. Any Iowa resident age 21 or more can register an account at the so-called racinos or racebooks, which, as their name suggests, are online casinos that have racing events in their offer.

If you’ve been wondering why some online books have a separate section of the website reserved only for racing instead of including it together with sports, this is one of the reasons. Actually, many of them have different domains for their racebooks, to keep it separate from online casinos and online sportsbook.  

Making an account at an online racebook and wagering real money on horseracing and greyhound events is perfectly legal for Iowa residents. But, if you’re one of them, there are some things you need to pay attention to, just to be on the safe side.

For many sportsbooks, creating an account for horseracing betting automatically means having an account for its casino and sportsbook. Being able to bet on sports or play online casino games doesn’t mean that you should actually do it. If you’re a law-abiding Iowan, stay away from that, at least for another couple of months.

Apart from betting online on horseracing and greyhound racing markets, Iowa residents can also do it in person at one of the three racetracks in the state. These racetracks also have the right to host slots and other gambling machines, showing that the state isn’t too much against gambling in general. Actually, there are currently 24 licensed brick-and-mortar casinos within the borders of the state of Iowa.

It’s a similar case in many other states, where people are allowed to gamble in licensed land-based casinos, playing all sorts of games including slots, blackjack, poker, and even place real money bets on racing. But, no sports betting.

The main reason why this is the case is that state legislators believe that legalizing sports betting could affect the fair play. And that has been the dominant opinion for more than a quarter of a century. But, the tide has turned since 2018. Several states have already made it legal and Iowa is expected to follow in May.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 characters available

One Response to The State of Online Sports Betting in Iowa

  1. Avatar

    Lotter Reply Report comment

    March 26, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Check on the progress of other states here