DES MOINES — Sports gambling will take the final step toward becoming reality Tuesday during a special meeting of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
Commission administrator Brian Ohorilko says the regulators will take a vote on the emergency rules. “This is the same package that was commented on back on July 11th. There were a few changes made as a result of those comments and public input. The package continues to evolve, and at this point it will be considered for emergency adoption,” Ohorilko says.
The only comments at that July 11th public hearing were from gambling and sports betting representatives, as no one from the general public made comments. He says the emergency adoption allows things to be set in motion. “The commission will need to go through the standard rule-making process before anything will be in final form. And so, it’s reasonable to expect that the package that’s being voted on Tuesday could changes as the rules go through the normal process,” Ohorilko says.
Ohorilko says the earliest Iowa’s 19 casinos could take bets would be the middle of next month. “On this emergency package — there is language indicating that the rules would be effective July 30th — with wagering and contests beginning no earlier than on August 15th at noon,” according to Ohorilko.
The casinos can offer on-line wagering and or take sports bets at their facilities. He says the casinos have been rapidly working to build the sports book areas, but some may not be ready right at the deadline. “We know one will not be ready for sure and then it will depend on the others in terms of how the construction is coming along and if they’re ready to go at each of the sites,” he says.
Ohorilko says most of the casinos are shooting for an opening of their on-site sports betting parlors near the end of month. “I think the goal for most of the properties is to be up and running before football season,” Ohorilko says. “And so, the August 15th date isn’t really maybe as critical for those companies. Although those that are ready to go on that date will be able to dip their toe in the water a bit and start accepting wagers on baseball and other sports.”
The casinos can create their own betting apps, or team with a company that will provide them. Ohorilko says the apps include the ability to know the user’s location, and the online betting will not work unless the geolocation provider can identify that the person is located within the state of Iowa.
The special meeting Tuesday is at 10:00 AM at the Drury Inn and Suites in West Des Moines.