Iowa has already legalized online sports betting and gaming advocates expect the state to next turn its attention to casino games like online baccarat.
Baccarat is a wildly popular game overseas and particularly in Asia, but it is just starting to grow in popularity in the United States. Players in some other states can play baccarat online but Iowa currently restricts baccarat games to physical casinos. With states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware already seeing large tax revenues from their recent gambling legalization bills, other states like Iowa are expected to follow suit.
Though there are no online casinos in Iowa, there are “social casinos” available to players across the United States that offer an alternative way to play casino games for money. These sites use a “sweepstakes” model, which effectively skirts the law. Here is a quick primer on how to play online baccarat and how to get your fix while you wait for the state to legalize online casino gaming.
How to Play Online Baccarat
Baccarat can seem intimidating to new players, but it is a really easy game to learn and there is little strategy involved. Think of baccarat as a simpler version of blackjack, without all the decision making.
Two cards are dealt to the “player” and two cards are dealt to the “banker.” Numbered cards are face value while tens and face cards count as zeroes and an ace counts as one point. The goal of the game is to get the hand closest to nine (9). If a hand goes over nine (9), the first digit is removed. So if you draw an eight (8) and a seven (7) for a total of 15, the hand is valued at five (5) points.
If a hand is valued at eight (8) or nine (9), that hand is a natural winner and no further cards are dealt while additional cards are dealt if the hand is valued at zero (0) to five (5) points.
You can bet on the player, the banker, or the tie. A tie bet is inadvisable since it typically pays out 8:1 and comes with a huge 14.36% house edge. The banker bet is your best bet, since it comes with a 1.06% house edge compared to a 1.24% house edge on player bets.
Since a banker bet is the best bet, many casinos take a 5% commission on banker bets. There are no-commission baccarat games, but these pay 1:2 on banker bets so you are better off sticking with the commission games.
Where Can I Play Baccarat Online?
Online baccarat is not allowed under Iowa law, but some social casinos have found a way around the law, allowing players a way to win real money by playing baccarat online.
These casinos only allow you to buy play money but each purchase comes with a “gift” of coins that can be redeemed for real money. You can use these coins to play baccarat and a slew of other casino games and then redeem the coins for their cash equivalent. Since you cannot buy these coins and are never betting any real money, these casinos allow you to play all your favorite casino games, collect your winnings, and avoid breaking any regulations.