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As states new to legal sports betting scramble to launch before NFL and college football start, Iowa is ahead of the game.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) is targeting Aug. 15 for legal wagering to go live in the Hawkeye State.
The five-member commission is set to approve rules for sports betting. It issued licenses to 18 of the state’s 19 casinos Tuesday morning in Des Moines, according to Brian Ohorilko, administrator for the IRGC.
“It was important for the industry to be able to offer sports betting by NFL season, but college football is king here in Iowa and that season is even a little earlier,” Ohorilko told Legal Sports Report. “If entities are ready to go, they’ll have the opportunity to work out any bugs before the NFL season starts.”
College football season kicks off Aug. 24, with the University of Iowa hosting Miami (OH) on Aug. 31.
It will be a busy two weeks meet this aggressive Iowa sports betting launch date.
Tuesday will get the first two big steps out of the way with establishing the rules and issuing casino licenses. Ohorilko indicates that every casino in the state has applied except Casino Queen in Marquette.
The approval process for IA sports betting is expected to be a formality since the casinos already have licenses to operate in the state.
Issuing casino licenses will allow the IRGC to move on to licensing the online companies that have entered into agreements with the casinos to conduct sports betting in Iowa.
“The commission has been working diligently to implement S 617,” Ohorilko said. “Since the date the bill was signed, the committee has worked with stakeholders, held a public hearing and researched a number of other jurisdictions to develop the rule package the committee will be voting on tomorrow.”
The legislation set up most of the regulations being approved by the commission. They include:
After sports betting is set, the IRGC will move on to licensing daily fantasy sports (DFS) providers. They will need to pay a licensing fee of $5,000 and a tax rate of 6.75% on adjusted revenues.
Ohorilko indicated that DFS should be allowed in September for the NFL season. There’s no rush to get DFS ready for college football, as a late amendment to the bill delayed fantasy teams involving college players until May 1, 2020.
It is unclear which Iowa casinos will be ready on Aug. 15. Licensed brick-and-mortar casinos and online providers need to have controls approved and technology certified through an independent test lab before they can begin accepting wagers.
William Hill took the first wagers in New Jersey last year through Monmouth Park. The company has partnered with Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola, and two Isle Casino Hotel properties in Waterloo and Bettendorf
The Telegraph Herald newspaper in Dubuque reported that the local Diamond Joe Casino and Q Casino would not have their sportsbooks running right away, but plan to have them operational by early September.
The rules passed by the commission are an emergency package to expedite the process before football season. Ohorilko cautioned that some of the regulations could potentially change as the commission finalizes the rules through the normal process.