• Sports betting in Iowa is set to launch in several of the state’s casinos, including Prairie Meadows.
  • Out of the state’s 19 licensed casinos, only the Casino Queen in Marquette does not plan to offer sports betting in Iowa.
  • Those planning to use mobile sports wagering apps in Iowa will have to register in person until January 1, 2021.

DES MOINES, Iowa – In a quick Summer turn around, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) has approved final regulations for IA sports betting and has set the official launch date for August 15 at noon.

The date was set during an IRGC meeting on Tuesday in West Des Moines, along with a sports betting license approval for 18 of the states 19 casinos. The only casino that has not yet submitted an application yet is the Casino Queen in Marquette, IA.

Hard Rock Sioux Withdraws Request

However, one casino that seemed prime to launch as soon as possible is now left with an uncertain launch date. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City originally submitted paperwork to the IRGC on June 7, 2019, to begin construction of their new IA sportsbook.

The retail Hard Rock sportsbook, will only encompass a total of 400 square feet and will feature four sports betting windows. While this is a much smaller area compared to its other casino competitors in Iowa, the focus has always been on launching a mobile sports wagering product.

“They will not necessarily go to a brick-and-mortar to do it,” said Hard Rock Marketing Director Mike Adams in an interview with the Sioux City Journal.

However, complications with the casino’s planned sports betting provider may have potentially slowed the rollout of their sportsbook app. Hard Rock withdrew its requests for contract approval with its provider from the IRGC’s meeting on Tuesday.

“We know we’re going to get there. We just have a couple of minor issues to rectify,” said Adams. “There is a chance that we may be able to go live on the 15th, but we just won’t be able to do it online.”

The next IRGC meeting is on August 22. Commission members, such as Jeff Lamberti, understand the quick turnaround for Iowa sports betting regulations does not mean the market will be fully developed by day one.

“While they’ll be allowed to conduct sports betting on August 15, that’s only if they meet all of our controls, so there’s no guarantee that all of them will be ready to go on the 15th,” said Lamberti.

What this means for the Sioux City Hard Rock Sportsbook

The competition to attract sports bettors is expected to be contentious. With almost every casino planning on introducing some form of sportsbook in Iowa many are looking to gain a head start in building a customer base, including Prairie Meadows.

“Whatever the start date was is always what are date was projected to be,” said Brad Rhines, Prairie Meadows senior vice president and chief strategic officer, in an interview with the Des Moines Register. “Day 1, Hour 1 has been our aim.”

Rhines also said in his interview that he “anticipates the app’s release to come a few days before the August 15 opening date.”

The sportsbook at Prairie Meadows originally began construction in February of 2019, well before IA SF 617 was signed into law by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds in May.

In that bill, the Iowa legislature approved one of the lowest initial sportsbook licensing fees at just $45,000 and one of the lowest sports betting revenue tax rates at just 6.75%.

The low cost to enter and operate means Iowa is primed to have a large legal sports betting market. Those that want to get a fair share of that market will have to act fast to build a solid clientele and make their sports betting operations in Iowa worthwhile.

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