Gambling in Iowa


Gambling in Iowa offers the state’s residents many varied sources of legal access to betting including riverboat, commercial and tribal casinos, horse racing betting (trackside, OTB and online), live poker, sports betting, and an excellent state lottery.

What stands out in Iowa is the democratic way the counties vote by referendum when looking to institute new forms of gambling. Perhaps the democratic attitude towards gambling has a lot to do with the state’s rich riverboat casino history. Gambling is a rich and historic source of cultural currency in Iowa and locals mostly support the industry.

Iowa Casino Gambling

There are world class casino facilities in Iowa and many are located on Native American Tribal Lands. Iowa’s residents and visitors also have the option to play casino games on the state’s historic riverboat casinos. Casino games are also available for legal play by Iowa residents at the state’s racetracks.

The Tribal casinos, the riverboat casinos, and with the added value of the ‘racinos’, the available options provide Iowa with more than 20 casinos across the state, more than 21 000 slots and gaming machines, and more than 450 table games in total. Wagers at Iowa’s casinos range from a minimum of $0.01 to a very generous maximum bet of $10 000. The colorful history of Iowa’s riverboat casino adds to an extra special flavor to the casino facilities on offer and Iowans for the most part, are very proud of their casino gambling history.

Online Casinos in Iowa

Despite lawmakers in Iowa having said in the past that they’re interested in seeing how New Jersey’s foray into poker goes and that they may consider drafting online casino legalization legislation, it has now been since 2013 and little has progressed in terms of Iowa’s online casino gambling laws though online sports gambling was legalized in 2019.

Until that happens, online Casinos are illegal in the Hawkeye State, however, signing up to one of the New Jersey online gambling sites is permitted although online casino play is not possible until you arrive in the Garden State due to geolocation requirements.

Poker in Iowa

Live Poker can be enjoyed at Iowa’s riverboat, tribal and commercial casinos, and racetracks all of which have legal poker rooms and offer tournaments and big cash prizes.

Social ‘home’ Poker games are considered to be illegal in Iowa (as they are played without a license – see section 99B.9 of the Iowa Code),

Poker Rooms

Iowa has a total of 88 poker tables spread across a possible 14 poker rooms. At those facilities, it is perfectly legal to play different types of poker in Iowa without fear of breaking any laws (including Pot Limit Hold’em, Casino Hold’em, Omaha 8 or better, Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud Poker, No Limit Hold’em etc.)

Online Poker Laws

Iowa’s online players are still unable to play Poker online at the current time, however, online poker is under continual debate by the state’s legislators.

The hopes for online poker in Iowa remain alive despite many bills having failed to pass the Iowa State Senate in recent years; (Senate file 2275 in 2012 and Senate Study Bill 1068 in 2013). Iowa’s legislators aren’t opposed to online poker. It’s actually more a matter of appeasing the other interested parties in Iowa’s gambling industry (i.e. tribal and riverboat casinos and the ‘racinos’) and agreeing on all the fine print.

History of Online & Land-Based Gambling in Iowa

1983; Horse & Greyhound Racing legalized in Iowa.

1985; Iowa State Lottery created.

1991; 2 Riverboat Casinos open, with 2 more following in 1994.

1992; First Tribal Casinos open in Iowa.

1994; Riverboat Casinos allowed to dock.

2013-19; Ongoing legislative push to legalize DFS contests in Iowa.

2013-19; Ongoing legislative push to legalize online poker in Iowa.

2019: Online and land-based sports betting becomes a reality in Iowa.

Visit our Iowa Online Sports betting page for more information about the states laws and reviews of the most popular online casinos