Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Iowa
2021 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Iowa
Iowa was an early proponent for online poker, but it died back in 2012. While the state still hasn’t regulated online poker, it did legalize and launch sports betting in 2019. The legalization took place in May and it went live in August. This is faster than most states who passed the laws in their books. You can bet in the state’s 19 casinos or on your phone as long as you’re within state lines. You will have to go register in-person and be at least 21 to start gambling online.
Iowans embraced sports betting and the 6.75% tax is giving the state some much-needed revenue. The state has accepted gaming throughout its history, but there’s currently no bill or concerted effort to legalize online poker. We’ll see if that changes with the advent of sports betting.
What are the Gambling Laws in Iowa
Iowa is one of the few states that allows nearly every type of gambling offered in the United States. From tribal riverboat casinos to racetracks, to online gaming and sports betting, Iowa has it all. Gambling in Iowa is regulated under Iowa Code 99 and Iowa Code 725.5.
For legal purposes, gambling in the state is defined by “participating in a game for anything of value.” It also includes “making any bet” as gaming or betting that could be subject to penalty or regulation.
This differs from lots of different states because it doesn’t involve the word “chance.” Lots of states include the word “chance” when defining gambling. That also gives poker an easy path to legalization since it’s been deemed a skill at the federal level. You can play poker in Iowa casinos, so we’ll see if they extend that online.
Can I Play on PokerStars in Iowa?
There’s no PokerStars in Iowa right now. Back in the day it was possible, but it’s since been relegated to a few states after being kicked out entirely. There very well might be a day in which you can fire up a game of PokerStars in Iowa again, but for the moment, PokerStars in the US is limited to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
There was a lot of love for PokerStars in the US, mostly because of its game offerings and software. Luckily, there are a ton of PokerStars alternatives available to players in Iowa. So you can still play online poker in Iowa. If you’re looking for a few good options, we recommend sites like Ignition Poker and BetOnline. These sites accept players from all 50 states in the US. For full reviews of these sites and more, just click below.
Legal Gambling in Iowa
There are tons of options for Iowans who want to gamble in the state. Lots of casinos in this tiny state and now players can even sports bet from the comfort of their own homes. There are race tracks in the state too, pretty much everything except for online poker. We’ll go over some of the state’s offerings.
In 1989, Iowa became the first state in the United States to legalize riverboat gaming. The casinos were incredibly popular and then land-based casinos started spreading around the state. There are now 20 land-based casinos in the state, four of which are run by Native American tribes. Lots of these casinos offer poker for Iowa residents.
There is a maximum 22% tax-rate on gross gambling revenue at riverboats and land-based casinos. Casinos in Iowa collectively pay over $331 million in gaming taxes to the state and over $392 million in state corporate taxes. The state’s casinos bring in 22 million visitors annually, two-thirds coming from out of state. The casinos have invested over $15 billion into their casinos over the past 20+ years.
Horse Tracks and Pari-Mutuel Betting
Horse racing has been around Iowa for decades and is regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. In 1994, they began allowing its racetracks to install slot machines. As of 2005, racetracks started offering table games too.
Currently, there’s only one race track in Iowa, the Prairie Meadows in Altoona. Horses have been running on the track since 1989 and about 2.7 million people visit the track annually. The state also offers parimutuel betting, so that’s an option if you’re going to be at Prairie Meadows. There’s a 24% tax-rate at racetracks with slots and table games with revenues exceeding $100 million.
Iowa’s State Lottery and Charitable Gaming
Iowa’s lottery started in April 1985. The profits have gone to a number of different things. First they went to long-term development programs. Then they went to environmental and cultural programs. Then they switched to a veterans and public health fund. In 2018, the lottery generated $87.1 million in revenue.
The Iowa lottery offers Mega Millions, Powerball and lotto America. There are also instant-scratch tickets and are sold in 2,400 locations. If that’s not convenient enough, there are also some online options for the lottery.
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