Legal Iowa Sports Betting

Iowa is one of the most gambling-friendly states in America, yet there’s still some question about legal Iowa sports betting. Well, put those questions to bed, because Iowa has officially legalized both land-based and online sports wagering. However, there are no physical sportsbooks opened in Iowa just yet, as it will take at least a few months for the industry to roll out and open their brick-and-mortar books. (Getting online betting up will take even longer, if the process in other states has been any indication.) Iowa’s goal is to have its first betting shops up and running in time for the start of the 2019 NFL season. This year, Iowa football fans will be able to put money on their Vikings and Packers, adding more intrigue than ever to one of the league’s biggest rivalries.

Nevertheless, you don’t actually have to wait to wager on sports in IA. By using an online, overseas sportsbook, you can sign up and wager on all the national and international athletics you can handle right now, including hometown NCAA action. While Iowa’s new sportsbook experiences are sure to be top-notch, offshore books – which, it must be pointed out, have been serving the state for over a generation – continue to provide high-quality odds and valuable lines to Iowa sports bettors. Indeed, even once the first local books open up shop, you’d be wise to compare odds with these offshore books, as shopping lines for the best payouts gives every bettor an immediate edge. To that end, in addition to discussing the operative IA sports wagering laws that allow both in-state and offshore betting, we want to offer insight on where you can bet and what the future of sports betting in Iowa will look like now that the pastime is finally legal.

Is Land-Based Sports Betting Legal In Iowa?

Yes! With the passage of SSB 1168, SF 366, and SF 617 into law, land-based sports wagering is finally legal in Iowa. These three laws are all different legislative bodies’ versions of the same bill, with SF 617 being the primary vehicle for legalizing sports wagering in the state. The law allows for land-based wagering at all 19 of Iowa’s casino venues, which are conveniently spread evenly throughout the state. However, it will be several months before any proper brick-and-mortar sportsbooks open. Until then, there are still ways for Iowa residents to enjoy sports gambling in their state. Going to an offshore online sportsbook that we recommend is the best way for you to enjoy legal Iowa sports betting right now, and it might even be preferable after the first casino-based books open.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal In Iowa?

Yes again! While it was already legal to use offshore sports betting websites to place your wagers from inside Iowa borders, state-licensed online sports betting was officially legalized along with the land-based options referenced above. Any Iowa casino that offers sports wagering may also offer online wagering via a mobile betting app. In fact, each venue can actually offer two different online betting products (aka “skins”), which should give residents more options than they could ever need. 

However, just because state-based Internet wagering is now coming to Iowa, it is important to remember two things. First, it will likely take six months or so before any online book starts accepting wagers, as the infrastructure has to be built in full intrastate compliance with the federal Wire Act. Second, offshore sports betting websites – which have been legal in IA for years – continue to operate with no problems. The new laws governing sports wagering in Iowa do not make these offshore books unlawful to use, and for many bettors, they will be the best option going forward.

Where To Bet On Sports In Iowa

If you want to get in on some legal Iowa sports betting then all you need is a computer or mobile device, an Internet connection, a few dollars, and about five minutes. Just hop over to a legal online sportsbook like Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, or 5Dimes. There you can set up a free user account, deposit your funds, and place your bets. That’s literally all there is to it. Even now that Iowa’s casinos are allowed to offer sports betting to their customers (pending launch), using these websites is still easier, faster, and more convenient for most bettors.

You can sign up at as many of the above sites as you want. Since it’s free to do so, there is little risk on your part. The reward? By being a member at more than one legal online sportsbook, you will be able to shop around for the very best bets and lines on any given contest. This alone should afford you a substantial edge and could make you a considerable amount of money in the long run. 

Where’s The Closest Place To Me To Bet?

With Iowa sports betting being legalized, you can expect to be able to wager at any of the state’s 19 casino venues. Several of these have already signed partnerships with renowned sportsbook operators to bring you the best betting experiences possible. For example, the Prairie Meadows Casino and Hotel (Altoona) has joined forces with William Hill, and the Catfish Bend Casino (Burlington) has partnered with PointsBet. DraftKings and FanDuel are currently working to ink deals inside the state, too. In the near-term future, you can expect sports betting to be available in and around the following Iowa cities, to name just a few.

List Of Potential Cities

  • Des Moines
  • Cedar Rapids
  • Davenport
  • Sioux City
  • Waterloo
  • Council Bluffs
  • Dubuque

Iowa Sports Betting And Gambling Laws

On paper, Iowa gambling law is a seemingly impossible contradiction in terms. Its state laws – found in § 725.7 of the Iowa Code – simultaneously ban “any bet” in all forms while carving out so many exceptions that Iowa’s become one of the most gambling-friendly states in the country.

Iowa’s first horse track was opened in 1989, and its first casinos were legalized for operation on tribal lands in 1991. In the decades to follow, both tribal casinos and commercial casinos have prospered in the area, making Iowa one of the premier gambling destinations in the Midwest. Iowa also has a lottery, legal bingo, charity raffles, greyhound racing, and pari-mutuel/simulcast betting available throughout the state. Oddly, Daily Fantasy Sports is not yet a part of Iowa’s gambling milieu, but progress is being made on that front.

Sports betting, the most popular type of gambling in America, is finally legal in Iowa, with the governor signing the requisite bills into law on May 13, 2019. As a result, all of Iowa’s casino venues can offer sports wagering, and each venue can launch up to two branded “skins.” That means that, by law, there can be a theoretical maximum of 38 different sportsbooks in the state. Most venues will use one “skin” for their physical betting lounges and the other skin for an online wagering product. 

What Teams Can I Bet On?

If you’re interested in what home teams you can bet on in Iowa, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there are several Division I NCAA teams to follow. The bad news is that there are no teams from any of the US’ major professional sports leagues operating in the state. That said, there’s plenty of Iowa fandom for teams like the Vikings and Packers, the Cubs, the Bulls, and the Blackhawks. Whether you use an in-state book or are visiting Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, or 5Dimes, you can bet on any Iowa team or any other club your heart desires (though it’s recommended that you always bet with your head, not your heart).


Cedar Rapids Titans (IFL) Drake Bulldogs (NCAA) Iowa Barnstormers (IFL)
Iowa Hawkeyes (NCAA) Iowa State Cyclones (NCAA) Iowa Wild (AHL)
Northern Iowa Panthers (NCAA)    

Horse Racing Betting In Iowa

Prairie Meadows is the only remaining horse track in Iowa. (It’s also the first in-state IA venue to partner with a sportsbook operator – William Hill – in anticipation of sports betting legalization.) Situated in the city of Altoona, this “racino” offers pari-mutuel Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse racing betting, simulcast horse and greyhound races, slot machines, and various casino-style table games. Although this is an option for bettors in Iowa, going to an online racebook is far more convenient than going to a physical location. If you go to an offshore site like BetOnline, you will be able to see racebooks from all over the country and make straight and exotic wagers as well. Online racebooks are the best way for you to enjoy horse racing in Iowa.

Daily Fantasy Sports In Iowa

Even though Iowa is otherwise liberal re gambling in general, daily fantasy sports is currently considered to be against the law. While there has been no statement by the state attorney general to this effect, DFS operators have interpreted Iowa Code § 725.7 as banning the practice outright. Until a bill legalizing DFS is passed, players in Iowa cannot enjoy DraftKings or FanDuel paid contests or win any of their cash prizes. You will still be able to use these sites for fun, provided no money changes hands. Of course, with the progress Iowa has made to legalize sports betting and with its current laws regarding gambling, it seems only a matter of time before DFS is legalized in the state.

Legal Iowa Sports Betting FAQ’s

Can I Bet Real Money On Sports In Iowa?

Yes. After all, money is the best thing to use. In fact, it’s the only thing to use! However, if you want to wager right away, you haven’t got any local real-money betting options available just yet. That will change in the coming months as IA rolls out its various sports wagering venues and services, but for now, you’ll have to stick to using offshore sportsbooks for all your betting needs. These books all take real money, and you can choose from a number of deposit options that will get you set up to bet ASAP. 

Is Online Sports Betting Safe In Iowa?

If you do it via a future state-sanctioned site or use a reputable offshore sportsbook, online Iowa sports betting is 100% safe. Because Bovada and its main competitors all use state-of-the-art encryption and data security protocols, you can rest easy knowing that hackers and scammers will have a really difficult time getting into your account. To date, there’s never been any data breach of consequence among the big online sportsbooks, and these companies all have a vested interest in keeping your money safe and accessible on their end.

Will Sports Betting In Iowa Ever Be Legal?

In fact, it already is! On May 13, 2019, gov. Kim Reynolds signed several sports wagering bills into law. However, it will still be a few months before the first brick-and-mortar books open for business, and it will be longer still before the state’s first online betting portal is up and running. If you want to wager in the meantime, offshore books are also completely legal to use in Iowa. 

Will I Get Arrested For Sports Betting In Iowa?

Almost certainly not. Internet sports bettors are not at much risk to be victimized by the government, and to date, there are no reports of anyone in Iowa ever being arrested for betting on sports with an online sportsbook. However, if you’re overly concerned about the (exceedingly slim) possibility, you can always deposit using Bitcoin for greater anonymity and peace of mind. While local legal options are rolling out in IA, it is unlikely that any of them will support Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. For maximum anonymity and privacy, online offshore sportsbooks remain better than state-based options.

What Is the Sports Betting Age In Iowa?

According to SF 617, the minimum legal age at which one can wager on sports in Iowa is 21 years old. This goes for both state-licensed online sportsbooks and land-based sportsbooks in area casinos. While offshore books will accept members at just 18 years of age, it’s important to defer to explicit state laws re age. This means that even if you sign up at an overseas sports betting site, you’ll want to be at least 21 before you do so. Gambling underage can run afoul of both IA law and offshore books’ terms of service, and you definitely don’t want to do either, as both are expensive mistakes.

Are There Mobile Sports Betting Apps Available In Iowa?

To date, there are no official apps for Bovada et al. on Google Play or in the App Store. If you want to have a reasonably smooth mobile experience when enjoying legal Iowa sports betting, you still can. Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, and 5Dimes have all developed mobile versions of their websites for this purpose. Just visit these sites on your smartphone or tablet, save the landing page to your device’s home screen, and use that as a so-called “web app” to access your betting account and wager options quickly and efficiently. That said, once state-licensed Iowa books launch, these will have official iOS and Android apps that you’ll be able to download from the App Store and Google Play. 

Where Is The Best Place To Bet On Sports In Iowa?

Since legal Iowa sports betting is only available online right now, the best place to bet on sports in Iowa is on a brand new mobile device! Of course, you can still use any modern smartphone, tablet, or computer for the task. If you’re only going to join a single online sportsbook, you should choose Bovada. It’s one of the old guards when it comes to online sports betting, and it has a remarkable reputation for always doing right by its customers. It’s also the easiest sportsbook to use, having the most straightforward layouts and bonuses. While signing up at multiple books is almost always preferable in the long run, Bovada is definitely where you want to start your legal Iowa sports betting adventure. Of course, in the near future, you will also have multiple state-sanctioned online betting sites to choose from and shop lines with, too. Stay tuned!

Should I Use A Local Bookie In Iowa?

Not even once. Remember, even though IA just legalized sports betting within its borders, bookmakers still have to be licensed and regulated by the state if they do business on Iowa soil. (Offshore books are exempt from this requirement.) A local bookie accepting bets within the state of Iowa would be knowingly violating several serious state laws and you could easily get caught up in that mess. And if you get caught and have to clean up that mess, your legal expenses will likely outweigh all of your combined winnings. Sports betting is about probabilities and odds, and taking such a big risk on a local bookie simply isn’t worth it. Save your money, enjoy your freedom, and bet at an online sportsbook or state-licensed venue instead.

Do Any Casinos In Iowa Have Sports Betting?

There are 19 active casinos in Iowa, and while they offer the gamut of the familiar card and table games, they do not offer sports betting yet. That will change now that the state has legalized wagering at these venues, but it will still be several months before the first physical sportsbooks open in IA. In the meantime, your only option for legal Iowa sports wagering is to use an offshore book. 

Can I Bet On Sports With My Friends In Iowa?

According to Iowa Code § 99B.45, social gaming between individuals is allowed. This includes sports betting and various other “[g]ames of skill and games of chance, except casino-style games other than poker.” There is one caveat to consider, though, and that’s the fact that Iowa has placed a $200 limit on the amount any private person can win from any other(s) over a single 24-hour period. This seems impossible to enforce, but just know that if you win $300 off some sourpuss by picking the Packers over the Vikings, he can go to the police and get them to make you give him back his money. Betting with losers is fun. Betting with sore losers, not so much.