The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission gave its final go-ahead Tuesday for state-regulated casinos to move forward on legalized sports wagering, including fantasy sports contests.
Legalized bets at 18 Iowa casinos will begin to be taken as early as noon on Aug. 15 as a result of the commission’s approval of sports wagering contracts during its meeting in West Des Moines. The casinos will oversee online betting as well as bets taken on site.
In fantasy sports, gamblers create virtual teams consisting of real pro athletes from a specific sport. The wagerers then compete against each other, with results based on how the teams’ players perform in actual competitions.
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for sports wagering beyond the borders of Nevada in a ruling issued last year. And Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law earlier this year allowing such wagers on most college and professional athletic events at the designated casinos.
The new law establishes a 6.75 percent state tax rate on sports-wagering revenues coming into casinos. The casino owners are also required to pay an initial $45,000 license fee as well as renewal fees amounting to $10,000.
Only those who are 21 years old and older will be allowed to engage in legalized sports betting. The casinos are expected to attract sports-betting tourists from other states as well. But mobile apps used to place such bets will be designed to work only within the borders of Iowa, according to media reports.
There are restrictions on some types of bets. In-game wagering that involves college teams that call Iowa home will not be allowed.
The gaming industry in the state employs about 15,000 people and has an overall economic effect estimated at $2.5 billion, according to the American Gaming Association. Annual wages for the industry amount to just under $620 million, the association reports.
The approval comes just in advance of the college football season, which opens toward the end of August. And the National Football League begins its games shortly thereafter, during the first week of September.