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Iowa has long been one of the states least likely to regulate online gambling. That all changed in May 2019 when the state legislature legalized sports betting. This is huge as online gambling in Iowa is now a reality, even if it is somewhat limited in scope.
Iowa does not presently permit other forms of online gambling, but we predict that to change soon. With attitudes towards online gambling changing nationwide, we predict Iowa gambling sites to launch soon. This is excellent news for fans of online poker and online casino games.
How online gambling legislation proceeds in Iowa depends greatly on national laws surrounding the Federal Wire Act and the success of online sports betting in the state. On this page, you’ll learn more about the legal status of various forms of online gambling, the legal status of online gambling nationwide, and when online gambling in Iowa will become a possibility.
Sports Betting in Iowa
Iowa jumped on the sports betting bandwagon and became the fourth US state to legalize the activity in 2019. Governor Kim Reynolds made sports betting legal in Iowa on May 13, 2019, when she signed SF 617 into law. Under the bill, both live and online sports betting was legalized.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will regulate sports betting, and they will be in charge of overseeing Iowa gambling sites once they are launched. Each casino is permitted to offer up to two skins per license, meaning that a casino can offer two brands of sports betting. With 19 casinos in the state, there could be as many as 38 online sportsbooks offered in the state.
Iowa lawmakers are making it easy for casinos to offer online sportsbooks with a reasonable $45,000 licensing fee and a $10,000 renewal fee. Sports betting will be taxed at just 6.75% of sports betting revenue.
For online sports betting, all betting will be conducted intrastate, and this will be verified via geolocation software over Wi-Fi. Those wanting to bet online in Iowa will have to register in-person at the sportsbook’s casino partner until January 1, 2021. Also, there will be a ban on prop betting on in-state college sports.
A launch date for sports betting Iowa gambling sites has yet to be set, but we predict it to be sometime in Fall 2019. Based on the in-person registration requirement, we believe that online sports betting will not launch until early 2020.
Online Casino in Iowa
Iowa state legal code effectively makes any form of unregulated gambling illegal. As such, online casino gambling is illegal. However, the state presently does not prosecute those that gamble online. However, with the recent passage of online sports betting, we are hopeful that the status of online gambling in Iowa will change.
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia have all legalized online casino gambling, and it is expected that other states will join them soon. States that have already passed online sports betting, such as Iowa, are prime candidates for online casino gambling since it is an added revenue stream for the state.
Since Iowa just passed sports betting, we predict that online gambling in Iowa will not be addressed until sometime in 2020 or 2021.
Online Poker in Iowa
Like online casinos, online poker is also illegal in Iowa. While online poker is not mentioned in any statues, state code defines gambling as “participating in a game for any sum of money or other property of any value, or making any bet.”
Online poker is legal in five states presently, including Nevada, and multiple states have addressed the issue in the past. Should online poker be legalized, it will probably be included in an omnibus online gambling bill like those in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
We don’t see Iowa addressing online poker without online gambling, but we do expect an online gambling bill to start making its way around the state legislature in the next couple of years.
Expect Most States to Focus on Sports Betting
Over 70% of US states have considered sports betting legislation over the last couple of years. This came after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, thus opening the doors for states to regulate the activity.
We predict that this trend will continue through 2019 and 2020 with more states regulating both live and mobile sports betting. However, other forms of gambling will likely see slower growth, primarily due to the uncertain legal status of the Federal Wire Act.
Back in 2011, the US Department of Justice issued a memo regarding the Wire Act that stated that it only applied to sports betting. This opened the doors for states to consider the legalization of other forms of gambling.
The DOJ did an about-face and reversed its opinion on November 2, 2018. As such, regulated states have been scrambling to either challenge the ruling or comply with the new decision. This has also led to some states slowing down their efforts to regulate online gambling.
US District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro recently ruled in a lawsuit against the DOJ that the 2018 opinion is invalid, but the DOJ is looking to appeal the decision. Based on recent memos, they are still looking to prosecute those in violation of the new opinion starting in January 2020.
The status of the Wire Act is important as it will have significant impacts on regulated online gambling markets. If upheld, it would restrict online gambling to intrastate gambling, and for some states, anything outside of sports betting would not be viable.
As such, we predict that it may be 2020 or even 2021 before we start to see serious progress in any areas of online gambling legislation beyond sports betting. To keep updated on the legal status of online gambling sites in Iowa, make sure to bookmark this site and check back regularly.