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The new year will not promise guaranteed winners for Iowa bettors, but it surely will offer a locked opportunity to get their new accounts processed easier.
Eligible Iowa residents and visitors into the state age 21 and older can sign-up for any legal sportsbook from a mobile device beginning January 1, 2021, if they are physically within state lines. Previously, Iowa sports bettors had to complete registration to wager in-person at a licensed casino within the state before placing a wager.
Although New Jersey and Pennsylvania are likely better known, Iowa was among the first US states to legalize sports wagering after PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) was reversed by the Supreme Court in May 2018. Gov. Kim Reynolds enthusiastically signed Iowa’s sports wagering bill in 2019, allowing Iowa both retail and online sports wagering by the latter part of 2019.
An unpopular portion of the law required bettors wanting to participate online to register in-person within one of the state’s retail partner casinos, akin to rules in Nevada. A practice to hopefully increase traffic within the casinos and act as a boost to overall domestic revenue opportunity.
The only obvious difference being Iowa is a far different place than Las Vegas or even Reno. It is not a consistent destination market and often a very inconvenient trip for most in-state residents. Also, geographically as all Iowa casinos are located near the Missouri River, it made for an exceptionally long sign-up drive for many FanDuel, William Hill, and other sportsbook operator customers.
Most critical of the practice were those who rightfully noted it helped encourage bettors to maintain accounts with offshore bookmakers and other illegal bookmakers as well. The primary reason why sports wagering was legalized in Iowa, as a method to raise necessary tax funding for specific purposes.
Rush Street Interactive, based in nearby Illinois has begun bringing their sports wagering service to Iowa the first of the year. Online timing was great as loyal Iowa State fans made history watching their team play Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. Remote registration kicked-in simultaneously with the new law on January 1.
Richard Schwartz, RSI President said enthusiastically:
The company is thrilled to make history by offering bettors in the Hawkeye state the opportunity to bet on a wide range of Iowa sports betting options from home. RSI has built a solid reputation in the gaming industry and has earned the trust and preference of players in the Midwest region. RSI has become established because we have developed a high-performing, secure reliable online sportsbook. Our company is confident that sports bettors in Iowa will take to the company’s honest and transparent approach to customer service.
Recently RSI has agreed to a partnership with local-based Wild Rose Entertainment, LLC. The agreement allows RSI to provide a faster and more efficient payout to RSI customers in Iowa. Wild Rose locations are available in Jefferson and Clinton, Iowa, where RSI players can utilize the Cash@Cage feature. With this convenient option, bettors can both fund deposits and withdraw from their accounts.
As expected, not only are sports bettors happy about the new legislation but all casino executives share their optimism as well.
Executive Vice President Brad Rhiner of Prairie Meadows Casino & Hotel in Altoona said he was excited about the change. “I think it’s going to pique sports betting interest in the state.”
Executives at Wild Rose Casino are also excited. General Manager Travis Dvorak said it’s DraftKings online sportsbook is already one of the most popular in the state and he said he expects this change to open the casino up to more customers who live nowhere near the small, Jefferson-based casino.
It’s a way for us to bring a big brand to the entire state. I think when we put a big brand in you have all you can get is positive out of that.
Keith Miller, a professor at Drake University’s law school specializing in gaming issues, said the change will likely have a big impact on Iowa’s gaming industry. Miller added that it could also make it easier for Iowa casinos to bring in more out-of-state dollars and the change reflects an industry that has proven to not only be entrepreneurial, but adaptive to changing tastes and circumstances.
There’s no question the younger generation is much happier being able to wager on mobile devices rather than having to go to a casino. Pandemic or no pandemic, I don’t think that phenomenon is going to change. I think it is only going to be enhanced. I don’t think there’s any question that the casino industry in Iowa will sooner or later be saying that with the way the world is changing, the way the casino industry is changing, that people need to be able to play blackjack, play slot machines, play other games online.
We will wait for the January 2021 Iowa monthly report to likely boast record handle and revenue because of the new changes and entries into the market.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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