It may come as a surprise to many people that the state that produces one in every ten pieces of produce for the entire country is also responsible for a thriving gambling culture and industry. While corn, dice and cards aren’t the normal blend of entertainment ingredients, Iowa offers the least restrictive gambling laws in the Midwest. Betting entertainment in the Hawkeye State consists of casino gambling (both tribal and commercial), live poker, pari-mutuel wagering, social and charitable gaming, and a state lottery. Sports betting is an altogether different animal, with its own set of rules and regulations handed down to each state, including Iowa, by the US federal government. How does this impact sports betting in Iowa? The answer to that question is where things start to get a little bit complicated.
In an effort to support individuals seeking information about legal sportsbook gambling opportunities in Iowa, we have created this comprehensive resource that effectively provides insight into the sports betting industry and the legalities involved. We will provide an explanation regarding Iowa’s state gambling laws as well as US federal gambling laws and how they intersect to create the existing legal landscape as is relevant to state based sports betting entertainment in Iowa. Once we cover what is and is not legal in Iowa, we provide you with information that guides you to legal US online sports betting opportunities that do not violate any state or federal laws.
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Is Sports Betting Legal In Iowa?
As mentioned previously, Iowa is very relaxed with most forms of betting. The exceptions are social gaming, in which a regulation allowing a maximum win or loss of $50 is imposed, and sports betting, which they are carefully excluding from approved activities in their pending DFS legislation. To be honest, their efforts to exclude sportsbook gambling as they create a regulatory framework for legalizing daily fantasy sports contests is really unnecessary. There are already two US federal laws in place that effectively govern US based sports betting throughout the nation and that will always supersede state law. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and the Federal Wire Act combine to ban sports betting both online and offline across the country, with very few exceptions.
These laws allow land based sportsbook gambling in only four states (Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon), and don’t allow US based online sports betting anywhere in the US. Even if lawmakers in Iowa really wanted to license bookmaker services to operate within the state, PASPA and the Federal Wire Act would prevent them from doing so. We said all of that to say this, state based sports betting either online or through brick and mortar bookmakers is not legal in Iowa.
The upside to all of this is that there are no state laws and no federal laws that prohibit Iowa gamblers from placing bets online as long as they do so at a US friendly online sportsbook that is licensed, regulated and located outside of the United States. US federal laws do not reach beyond the nation’s borders, and do not make it a crime for bettors in the US to visit, create an account at or place bets at legitimately regulated offshore sportsbooks that are operating legally within the industry. An example of this type of sportsbook is found in our list of the best US online sportsbooks. They are all legally licensed and regulated through a respected governing jurisdiction. Participating in sports betting at one of these types of destinations does not violate Iowa state gambling laws or US federal gambling laws.
Laws To Consider
When you run across a state like Iowa that actually allows gambling across the board, you still have to realize that gambling in such an area is still very much a regulated activity. What this means is that Iowa will still punish people for gambling; where their attitude is really lax is with the act of betting. If you're a resident of Iowa and you like laying your money down on bets, then the state doesn't consider you a criminal. They don't view you as doing anything that's illegal or immoral. However, if you were to simply throw a poker table in your billiards hall or put a slot machine in your gas station, then you would be in violation of Iowa gambling laws. This falls under 725.5 of Iowa's legal code, which is entitled "Keeping gambling houses." This statute basically says that a person shall not conduct any business that accepts money for gambling wagers, whether cards, dice, faro, roulette, craps, a punchboard, lotto, slot machines, etc. A silver lining here, however, is that doing such is only a misdemeanor offense rather than a felony, but it's still something Iowa holds to be illegal.
Where the legality of Iowa's gambling comes into play is what they allow per state regulations. In other words, if you own that pool hall and want to put some sort of gambling in it, you have to clear it with the state. Doing so may just allow you to offer regulated games of chance, so that you can offer gambling to your customers while still operating within the law. Iowa probably isn't going to allow just any business to offer gambling, so that may be wishful thinking. But that is technically a way you can go about offering gambling games, by getting the state to regulate what you're doing. This explains why there are so many gambling options in Iowa that just pop up randomly. The state sponsors gambling in Iowa.
Casinos and Gambling Hot Spots of Iowa
Iowa might not have a host of professional teams to be proud about, or any at all, but they offer something that a lot of states in the USA do not: Legal casinos at which residents can enjoy quality gambling. We're not talking about some strewn-together-haphazardly flophouse that the state erected in order to milk more tax dollars from citizens. Iowa actually has a few legitimate casino resorts that are roomy, varied and beautiful. In fact, Iowa has over 20 casinos in their state, and a few of them are recognized around the entire globe for being great gambling spots. A prime example of this would be Harrah's in Council Bluffs. Harrah's is a world famous casino chain, with locations in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and even in China. Their Iowa location has over 1,000 slots, hundreds of resort rooms, and its own golf course. They also have a poker room inside, which is a huge draw for Iowans.
And the list just goes on from here. You have the Cat Fish Bend casino and resort, the Mystique casino, Rhythm City, the Grand Falls Resort, the Wild Rose, Lady Luck, the Riverside Resort, and over a dozen more. Many of these casino locations have a live sportsbook option for those Iowans who love to bet on their favorite sports, and all of them have at least slots and a few game tables. Of course, with these state-based casinos, you're going to find that some are better than others. Some are rather small and don't have any hotel rooms, but others are legitimate resorts with golf courses and huge pools and fountains and spas and everything else that makes you feel like you're on a trip to Vegas or Macau. The appeal of Iowa's casinos stretches out through most of the Midwestern region. After all, the state doesn't have any professional sporting franchises that are going to bring in outside tourists, but people do stop in from all around to play at the state's variety of casinos. Some people even refer to Iowa as the Vegas of the Midwest, due not only to their many casinos but also due to their overall tolerance of gambling. Iowa has embraced the gambling culture wholesale, and they don't have any legislation sneaking down the pike that would potentially threaten their twenty-plus casinos or their lax way of viewing gambling.
What Sort of Sports Iowa Offers
Iowa obviously isn't one of America's most famous states, but the state is not without its famous cities and towns. Cedar Rapids is a big city that most everyone has heard of. Des Moines is of course another big-name city within Iowa. And there are other places that are well known, like Waterloo and Sioux City. Overall, Iowa isn't the shy, reserved, fly-over state that one might think right off hand. There's actually a whole lot going on there, in terms of big cities and famous townships and the like. So, it stands to reason that Iowa has a lot of sports going for it too, right? Well, not exactly. Sports betters in Iowa are already well aware, and it's everyone else just finding out, but Iowa doesn't have that many sports at all. They're located right around Michigan and Illinois and Wisconsin, so one might think that football has a huge presence in the state, but they actually don't. Iowa doesn't have any professional teams inside of its borders. There's no NFL franchise, no NBA team, no NHL squad or MLB spot carved out. They don't even have a professional soccer team in Iowa. When it comes to sports offered, the state pretty much has one mediocre collegiate team worth rooting for, with the Iowa Hawkeyes, and a couple of MFL teams that pick up slight fanfare.
Looking at Iowa on the whole, it becomes clear that part of the reason they may be so forgiving about gambling is that the state doesn't offer anything else in the way of quality entertainment with basketball or football or baseball. And that's especially disappointing in the realm of baseball. After all, Iowa is literally the Field of Dreams on which Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones stood for their iconic movie, considered one of the best sports movies in history. And not having at least a professional baseball team is something that has long angered many Iowans. The state has been in talks with a few professional leagues about bringing a team to the Midwestern state, but so far nothing has stuck and Iowans live in a state that doesn't offer any pro teams to root for, and only a somewhat decent collegiate player in NCAA sports. Overall, it seems to be that the area outside of Iowa has enough going for it that Iowa officials and league presidents don't believe that having an Iowan team is fiscally doable. They believe that NFL teams like the Bears and Packers will always be a bigger draw, and they have a gauge here. They're not just plucking this out of thin air. After all, no matter how well the Hawkeyes do, it's the Ohio State Buckeyes that turn the heads, or a Michigan team, but never an Iowan team.
Is the Hawkeye State Relevant in Sports?
Since we're a resource site that deals specifically with online sports betting, we feel it's important to focus on the sports scene in Iowa. After all, there's a huge difference between someone who likes to play a game of blackjack and someone who likes to bet on the NFL every Sunday. One is a simple card game that many treat as a hobby; the other is a serious discipline that some people study all year for. To be an effective sports better on a sport like football or basketball, you have to know how the game operates, how momentum works, how weather can affect outcomes, and much more. But since Iowa doesn't have a single professional franchise within its borders, do sports betters within the state actually put that much effort into betting on their favorite teams?
Even though Iowa isn't offering anything for homers to take advantage of, you have to remember that teams like the Bears and Ohio State Buckeyes and Cleveland Cavs are still huge draws for the region. Sports fans in Iowa are every bit as fanatical as sports fans elsewhere, and thus many Iowans do take their sports betting seriously and they study up on it like a school subject.
This is something we recommend you do if you're a sports gambler. Pay attention to the teams' rosters and off-season trades. Focus on their injury reports; look at weather reports. Learn to read stats and adjust your bets based on how well the team can do statistically, not simply how much you like them on a fan level. Be very analytical when breaking down teams, leverage your bets for maximum efficiency, and always work to limit your risks. If you can do these things, sports betting can not only remain fun but it can also be rather lucrative.
Future Betting Odds For Iowa Teams To Win A Championship In 2017
Iowa State +15000
Iowa Hawkeyes +8600