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Iowa Regulators Push For August 15 Sports Betting Launch

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sioux City

A special session of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) is set for Tuesday, July 30, for the Hawkeye state sports gambling regulators to vote on emergency rules and regulations that could allow licensed sportsbooks to open for business as early as noon this Thursday, August 15.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed sports betting bill SF617 on May 13, 2019, legalizing sports wagering and fantasy sports contests. The bill also designates IRGC as the industry’s regulating agency. Both retail and mobile sports betting are now legal in Iowa.

If the commission’s emergency rules and regulations are given the go-ahead on Tuesday, some involved parties speculate that an Aug. 15 opening date might be difficult for potential sportsbook operators to meet. Even so, Hawkeye sports bettors will likely be able to place their first legal sports wagers during this fall’s football season.

Sports betting partnerships and licensing on agenda

The commission also plans to consider sportsbook licensing and partnership contracts during Tuesday’s special session. All but one of the state’s 19 casinos have filed applications for sports wagering licenses.

On the agenda for sports gambling licenses only, on Tuesday, are:

  • Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo in Cedar Falls
  • Rhythm City Casino in Davenport
  • Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington
  • Lakeside Hotel and Casino in Osceola
  • Riverside Casino in Washington County
  • Three Wild Rose properties located in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson
  • Prairie Meadows racino in Altoona

Potential partnerships up for approval at Tuesday’s special session include:

  • Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sioux City with SCE Partners/HR IA Gaming
  • Three Council Bluffs casinos – Ameristar with Penn Sports Interactive, and Horseshoe and Harrahs with Caesars Entertainment
  • Dubuque Racing Association racino with IGT

Dubuque’s Diamond Jo and Northwood’s Diamond Jo Worth casinos, along with Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood, agreed to a partnership with Betfred last week. The UK-based company, making its US debut, is expected to handle retail and online sports betting operations for the three Iowa properties owned by Elite Casino Resorts.

Last April, PointsBet announced that it entered into a multi-year partnership with Catfish Bend Casino. Pending necessary licensing and approval from state regulators, PointsBet should handle the launch of both retail and mobile sports book operations.

Betfred has stated that it will likely begin with an onsite, retail sportsbook, probably at Grand Falls Casino, before it begins setting up its mobile wagering operation. However, all plans are pending until final IRGC approval is received.

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