Millions have already been wagered on sports in Iowa, with most bets placed online

A staff member cashes tickets at the Elite Sportsbook inside the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)
A staff member cashes tickets at the Elite Sportsbook inside the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Dec. 2, 2019 at 5:39 PM CST
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Casinos across the state have had three full months to take bets on sporting events, leading to to millions of dollars in wagers, but a majority of the money that people are betting is happening without anyone stepping foot in a casino.

Earlier this year, Iowa became the 11th state in the country to offer sports betting. This came after a 2018 Supreme Court decision cleared the way for sports gambling nationwide. Iowans started legally placing bets on sporting events on August 15, 2019.

At Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, General Manager Dan Franz said he and his team still want to figure out the ceiling for sports betting. He said having the option to bet on a game or match online has turned into big business for the casino.

"It's just been a fun add to our business," Franz said. "It's been a lot of excitement, a lot of people coming down here to the book for the first time."

According to a November report from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, many area casinos have seen a lot of early success.

At Riverside, more than $6.6 million has come through its Elite Sportsbook. Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona has seen $35.7 million in bets. The Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo has taken more than $8.3 million. So far, all of the state's casinos have taken in more money than they have paid out.

However, most of the money that is being wagered statewide is not physically wagered in a casino. Prairie Meadows, for example, has seen more than $32 million of its total sports betting revenue from online betting.

Franz said the dominance of online wagering is also true for Riverside.

"Here we're heavy online," Franz said. "About 80 percent of our bets we see on our online platform."

Elisabeth Kissling, the Marketing Coordinator for Foundation 2 in Cedar Rapids, said that online betting ability could prove problematic for some.

"I think sometimes when you're using an app or online, it doesn't seem like real money," Kissling said. "You're not putting the coins into the machine or physically touching the money. So that can make it seem like 'oh I'm just playing a game,' and it's real life."

Franz said online wagering might actually make things easier, not just to bring in money, but help people monitor what they are betting.

"You can keep track of it all that way, keep budget, keep yourself under where you need to from a wagering standpoint," Franz said. "It's convenience. That speaks a lot."

If you or someone you know has symptoms of problem gambling, you can call 1-800-BETS-OFF or visit the BETS OFF website for more information.

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