How We Selected the Best IA Sportsbooks
All licensed betting sites in Iowa can offer an enjoyable and profitable betting experience, but that doesn’t mean you should select the first betting site you come across. We looked at all the crucial performance indicators to separate the best from the rest, including safety measures, market selection, bonuses and promotions, quality of odds, and more.
Regulation and Safety
Before online betting got a green light in 2019, Iowa residents could only resort to offshore sportsbooks. Luckily, that time has passed. Each betting site you can see listed on this page features an approval stamp from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission in compliance with the state laws.
As long as you’re at least 21 years old and physically present in the state of Iowa, betting on these sites is completely legal.
Also, unlike unregulated sportsbooks, these betting sites are completely safe for all users. They deploy the latest online security tech that serves to protect your sensitive personal and financial data. You can rest assured your information is protected, and your winnings will appear in your account in a timely manner.
All top-rated Iowa sports betting sites allow betting on major American sports, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. Additionally, they all feature betting on many other worldwide competitions, including tennis, soccer, boxing, golf, and more.
The Iowa sports betting landscape is a rather competitive one, forcing sportsbooks to utilize various promotional tactics to set themselves apart. One way they lure potential players in is by offering lucrative welcome bonuses, and you can easily compare each welcome bonus by looking at our list above.
Of course, a welcome bonus is just a one-time deal, so to truly evaluate a betting site based on its offers, we also took a peek at their line of regular promotions, including free bets, odds boosts, referral bonuses, cachbacks, and more.
Odds and Lines
Another crucial aspect showcasing how Iowa betting sites are different is odds and lines. The quality of odds heavily influences our rating system, as we highly value sportsbooks that give an opportunity of maximizing profits.
Mobile Betting and Apps
You will not be required to wager from your home, as all top-rated Iowa sportsbooks are easily accessible through mobile devices, either via a mobile-browser site or a native app. Of course, not all mobile sites and apps provide a seamless betting experience, so we based our ratings on their overall design and functionality.
Using as many different payment methods when making deposits and withdrawals is another highly valuable aspect of any betting platform. Additionally, a worthwhile betting site must ensure quick payments, optimal deposit and cashout limits, and low to non-existent service charges. You should not worry about your money’s safety, as all licensed Iowa betting sites are 100% secure.
Customer support is the backbone of any online service. As a sportsbook customer, you’ll likely run into some brick walls and would need help from a responsive and professional team of experts. Our top-performing Iowa betting sites all have dedicated customer care teams that work around the clock and offer direct access through live chat, email, phone, or social media.
Brief History of Gambling in Iowa
The introduction of retail and online sports betting is just another chapter in Iowa’s long and rich gambling history. Gambling took place in Iowa throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, though most was unregulated. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the first laws took a written form to establish a regulated gambling market in the state.
Namely, legislators signed the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act in 1983, allowing for pari-mutuel betting on dog and horse racing. In turn, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission started overseeing all present and future gambling activities in Iowa the following year.
Next in line was the lottery, which became legal in 1985. In 1991, Iowa became the first state to legalize riverboat casinos. At first, there were three riverboat casinos, two in Dubuque and one in Bettendorf, and another in Burlington opening later that year. Native American casinos were approved and started opening in 1992.
The 1994 legislation brought several changes, the most crucial of which included the removal of the maximum $5 wager/hand limit, raising of the gambling age restriction from 18 to 21, and allowing casinos to operate 24 hours a day. More land-based and riverboat casinos received Commission-issued licenses in the upcoming years, and today, more than 20 casinos are scattered around Iowa.
Things stayed pretty much unchanged on the Iowa gambling scene until 2018 and the abolishment of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which allowed the state legislators to introduce another gambling vertical — sports betting.
Sports Betting in Iowa: Timeline
With pari-mutuel wagering, casino gambling, and lottery already being legal and regulated, it wasn’t surprising to see Iowa reaching toward sports betting as soon as the conditions allowed.
The 2019 legislative session resulted in the authorization of sports betting and daily fantasy sports, both of which launched in the second half of that year. The quick implementation of the new law is truly impressive. While it took some states more than a year to establish rules and regulations before finally launching, Iowa completed the rollout in just four months.
After a solid start, the Iowa sports betting industry took a hit throughout 2020 due to pandemic measures that temporarily shut down retail sportsbooks and postponed action across most major sporting competitions. However, things eventually came back to normal and allowed the industry to start thriving.
Here are some of the most notable dates and events that shaped IA sports betting up to this day:
- May 2018: The Supreme Court rules PASPA unconstitutional, allowing for the authorization of sports betting across the United States.
- Early 2019: HF 648 and SF 617 regarding sports betting measures are proposed, starting their advancement in the legislature.
- April 2019: The final version of the sports betting bill is passed in the Senate and overwhelmingly approved in the House by a 67-31 vote.
- May 2019: Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the sports betting bill into law on May 13.
- August 2019: Although the initial target date was set to July, sports betting in Iowa started on August 15 with the launch of Caesars Sportsbook.
- October 2019: Daily fantasy sports start legally operating in Iowa.
- March 2020: Retail sportsbooks begin closing due to pandemic measures, but start to reopen in June.
January 2021: In-person registration is no longer required, allowing Iowans to sign up to their favorite betting sites online.
Sports Betting in Iowa: License and Tax Information
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission oversees sports betting in the state, thus establishing a set of rules for all license applicants.
Namely, only existing Iowa casinos can receive licenses, which, in turn, are free to enter into partnership deals with outside entities for establishing sports betting operations both on-premise and online. A single license holder is allowed two betting skins. Individual operators can enter into agreements with as many Iowa casinos as they wish. For instance, Caesars Sportsbook has land-based partners in six different casinos.
One of the prime reasons why so many sports betting brands are attracted to the Iowa market is some of the cheapest licensing fees in the entire country. Applicants must pay a $45,000 initial license fee and an annual $10,000 renewal fee. Furthermore, licensees pay only 6.75% tax on sports betting revenue, which is considerably lower than in many other states.
At first, patrons had to perform in-person registration, but the rule expired on January 1, 2021. The legal betting age is 21.
How to Get Started in an Iowa Online Sportsbook
With the ability to register remotely, setting up an account with an Iowa online sportsbook is a breeze. Before you do anything else, browse our list of the best Iowa sports betting sites above. Once you’ve decided on a sportsbook, go to its homepage and do the following:
- Click on the Join/Sign Up/Register button, usually located at the top right corner of the website or app.
- Fill out the sign up form with required details, including your legal name, date of birth, address, email, social security number, and phone number. This is also where you’ll set your account credentials (username and password).
- Before clicking to confirm, make sure to read and understand the website’s terms and conditions. If required, tick the box claiming that you wish to partake in the sportsbook’s intro promotion.
- You’ll receive an email or SMS code with instructions on how to activate your newly created account.
- Go to the deposit page to make your first payment. Use the bonus code to unlock the sportsbook’s welcome bonus if required.
- Now that everything is set up, you can start browsing the available games and markets. Choose a sport and competition on the left side of the screen and click on individual markets to start creating your betting slip. Once done, enter the wager amount and confirm the bet.
Note that you are not limited to having an account on just a single sportsbook. You can have one account on each licensed Iowa betting site, which can help you with odds shopping and finding the best available offers.
Eligibility and Geolocation
To bet online or at a retail sportsbook in Iowa, participants must be at least 21 years old. You do not have to be a resident of Iowa to bet, but you must be physically present in the state to use one of its mobile sites or apps.
The apps work with geolocation software and are geofenced, meaning that they’ll only work if you are in Iowa, unlike in some other states where you can’t bet but will still be allowed to manage your account if you’re outside of state lines. The software is very accurate, so there’s no circumventing it. VPN usage is prohibited.
Iowa Sports Betting Partnerships With Professional Teams
It became common for betting operators to establish partnerships with sports franchises across the United States, thus increasing the engagement with sports fans. However, since Iowa doesn’t host any major professional teams, no such partnerships occur here. The state’s top-level university football team, the Iowa Hawkeyes, currently don’t have any sports betting partners.
What Types of Bets Can I Make in Iowa?
Iowa sportsbooks don’t lack betting choices. Popular events like the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals feature hundreds of markets that stretch from main bets to all sorts of minuscule props. Of course, this isn’t to say that niche sports don’t contain dozens of interesting markets.
Regardless of the sport or the popularity of an individual event, here are some of the most common bets you can take on Iowa sports betting sites:
- Moneyline bets: The most popular type of bet for any given sport. The goal is to simply choose a winning side, with negative and positive odds marking the favorite and the underdog, respectively.
- Point spread: A bet that accounts for a certain amount of points being given to the underdog and taken away from the favorite. The side you wager on needs to “cover the spread,” with favorites winning by a suggested margin and underdogs losing by fewer points than the margin or winning the game outright. This type of bet is most popular in high-scoring sports such as football and basketball. It also has other names in certain sports, like puck line in hockey and run line in baseball.
- Totals (over/under): This type of bet relates to the total score of a given game. The sportsbook will set a line at a half-point mark, like 215.5 on a basketball game, for instance, and the goal is to guess whether the total amount of points scored in that game will be lower or higher.
- Proposition bets: Props are a group of bets that relate to various specifics during a given game. For example, you can bet which team scores the first touchdown, whether there will be overtime in a basketball game, or how many points/runs/goals a player will score. Props typically consist of game and player props.
- Futures: A future bet is a wager that lets you predict a future development in a given competition. Instead of betting on your favorite team’s next game, you can bet on them to win the entire championship or at least reach the playoffs. You can also bet on players winning individual awards, like MVP or Rookie of the Year trophies.
- Live bets: Live or in-play bets are a set of wagers that you can take during the action. All pre-game bets are available live as well, except for futures and the addition of short-term bets like who wins the next period, race to a certain number of points, which team scores next, and more. Live betting odds and changes reflect the current situation in the game.
Multi bets: Unlike single bets, multi bets allow you to merge multiple wagers onto a single betting slip. The three main types of multi bets are parlays, teasers, and round robins. They each have their unique characteristics, but their ultimate goal is to help you create a larger payout.
What Bets Are Off-Limits
Iowa sportsbooks allow betting on almost all sports and markets. The only major restriction relates to in-play and prop betting on in-state collegiate games. Iowa also doesn’t allow esports betting and betting on all non-sport affairs, such as political elections.
Since PointsBet operates legally in Iowa, points betting is completely legal. For those not familiar with this form of wagering, points betting allows you to win or lose more money based on the number of points the bet wins or loses by. Betting on daily fantasy sports is legal as well.
Responsible Gambling in Iowa
Iowa has set certain responsible gambling measures to control and prevent gambling addiction among its residents.
Each sports betting site operating in Iowa needs to have a responsible gambling policy, which includes things like self-assessment questionnaires, self-exclusion programs, betting limit tools, timeouts, and links leading the professional gambling help organizations. The major provider of this kind of treatment in the state is the Iowa Department of Public Health.
IOWA SPORTS BETTING ONLINE
Is sports betting legal in Iowa?
Iowa legalized sports betting in April 2019. The Governor signed the sports betting bill in May, and the first sportsbooks started operating in August of that year. Both retail and online betting are legal in Iowa.
How old must I be to place bets in Iowa sportsbooks?
You must be 21 years old to place sports wagers in Iowa. This counts for both online and in-person betting.
Are Iowa betting sites safe?
Yes, all licensed Iowa betting sites are 100% safe. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approves them and employs all the standard security measures for protecting your sensitive information.
Do I have to be physically present in Iowa to place bets?
Yes, even when betting online or through your mobile device, you must be within state lines to place wagers.
Do I have to be a resident of Iowa to place bets?
No, you do not need to have a physical address in Iowa to enjoy betting in its retail or online sportsbooks. You just need to be present in the state when placing a bet.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I bet on mobile in Iowa?
Yes, Iowa sportsbooks all have browser-based mobile sites, while a good portion have native apps that you can download on your iOS and Android smartphone or tablet.
What kind of bonuses do Iowa sportsbooks offer?
Iowa sports betting sites offer a wide array of promotions to their customers. New account holders can take advantage of welcome bonuses, while regulars can enjoy an array of ongoing promos, including deposit bonuses, free bets, odds boosts, and more.
Can I access offshore sportsbooks in Iowa?
You can still technically play on offshore sites in Iowa, but we advise against it. These sites are often unregulated and provide unfair treatment to their customers.
Who regulated online betting in Iowa?
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission regulates sports betting in the state.
Are there any retail sportsbooks in Iowa?
Yes, nearly 20 casinos in Iowa allow in-person betting, with more expected to launch retail sportsbooks in the upcoming period.