NORTHWOOD — Iowa regulators say they are on track to finalize rules that would allow state-licensed casinos to accept bets on most professional and college sports by early to mid-August.
Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission staff have been working “thoroughly and swiftly” to develop rules for sports gambling, with a goal of posting the rules on its website by July 1, administrator Brian Ohorilko said.
Ohorilko said the five-member commission likely will hold a public hearing on the rules at its July 11 meeting at Prairie Meadows in Altoona. The commission would likely take action on sports betting, including accepting applications from casinos, at a July 30 meeting in West Des Moines.
“The industry is requesting a pretty aggressive timetable to have things implemented by August,” he told the commission at its meeting Thursday at Diamond Jo Casino near Northwood. “We’re doing everything we can to do that, but making sure that we’re doing it the right way.”
Three casinos — Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort near Larchwood and Lakeside Casino near Osceola — received the go-ahead Thursday from state regulators for remodeling projects to create spaces for sportsbooks.
The casinos are the first in the state to act since Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill last month legalizing sports wagers.
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The IRGC also approved Elite Casino Resorts LLC’s request to use Betworks LLC as a provider of sportsbook services for Elite’s three Iowa casinos, Grand Falls, Riverside Casino & Golf Resort near Iowa City and Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport. The commission also voted to accept Bally Gaming to run the sportsbook being set up at Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs.
Hard Rock and Grand Falls officials have pledged to have their sportsbooks up and running as soon as the IRGC gives final approval. It should occur just as the NFL and college football seasons kick off this fall.
Work is set to begin Monday on the Hard Rock project that will convert 400 square feet of existing casino space into a sportsbook. Grand Falls also plans to start soon on remodeling to convert space currently used by weekend musical acts into a sportsbook area, with tables and booths for wagerers to watch games on big screens.
Iowa’s law legalizes betting not only on pro and college athletics, but also on daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. The new law does not allow in-game bets — known commonly as proposition, or prop bets — on in-state college teams such as the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones. Such bets usually involve small wagering amounts on things like whether the first free throw of a basketball game is successful or if a player scores a certain number of points.
At state-licensed casinos, including the Hard Rock and Grand Falls, visitors will be able to wager on games at employee-staffed windows or on their own at kiosks. After an initial registration at a casino, they also will be allowed to place bets online on mobile devices.
A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for states other than Nevada to provide bookmaking and betting at casinos and racetracks.