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US – Iowa casinos closing in on launching sports betting

By - 17 June 2019

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission’s administrator Brian Ohorilko has said the 19 state-licensed casinos are closing in on launching their sports books in place after it was legalised in May.

“Most of the properties are anxious to have things up and ready prior to the football season,” he explained. “We’re seeing remodels right now and updates on existing space. It’s hard to say if we’ll see more material renovations as time moves on. Many of them seem to have an idea or a plan for where they may put a sports book or have their sports gambling operations. Each facility looks a little different in Iowa, and so I’m sure every plan will be a little bit different.”

Prairie Meadows is leading the charge in Altoona confirming back in January that it would join forces with William Hill to operate a sports book on site with an eight-year lease for 8,600 square feet of space.

In North West Iowa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City will add four sports betting windows by converting 400 square feet of existing casino space into a sportsbook at a cost of US$895,000 by late September.

A Hard Rock spokesperson stated: “We are pleased that the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission unanimously approved our remodeling proposal for our new sports betting area. This decision allows us the opportunity to start construction, which will begin on Monday. There will be additional meetings throughout the next couple of months prior to the implementation of sports betting, which we are looking to introduce to our patrons later this summer.”

The Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort meanwhile has announced plans for a $10m expansion and renovation that will begin at the end of June as part of its sports betting revolution.

The gaming resort plans to add more hotel rooms, expand its RV park, and renovate the Show Lounge space into a sportsbook and new entertainment venue.

A total of 63 hotel rooms will be added to the resort which will overlook an outdoor pool and pool deck. The RV park will feature 25 more campsites. Construction on hotel addition and RV park will begin in September and will be completed in the summer of 2020. Officials said the hotel and RV park additions are expected to cost $8.5m.

The renovation of the Show Lounge into a new sportsbook includes converting the center bar into a musical entertainment area which will allow for acoustic style performances. Work for the sportsbook and entertainment venue are expected to cost $1.5 million. Construction is set to be completed in August.

“Once completed, the sportsbook will offer food and spirit options to cater to the tastes of the sports enthusiast, plush seating and TVs galore of every size so fans can watch their favourite game,” said Sharon Haselhoff, General Manager of Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort. “We work hard to provide an exceptional entertainment experience to our guests. These new renovations and additions will offer an unmatched gaming and resort experience drawing guests from the tri-state area.”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said last month as he signed in the bill allowing sports betting. “It was already happening and this is a way to bring transparency and oversight to the industry and to really fold it under the racing and gaming. I’m really proud of the integrity and the system that we have and I think that’s the right place for it. So we’ll see what casinos across the state are able to do with the new bill.”

Iowa’s sports betting legislation allows for bets on pro and college athletics alongside daily fantasy sports but doesn’t allow for in-game betting, known in the States as prop bets, or on in-state college teams.

Elite Casino Resorts meanwhile will deploy sports betting technology by Betworks who has been approved as a provider of sportsbook services for Elite’s three Iowa casinos, including Grand Falls, Riverside Casino & Golf Resort near Iowa City and Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport.

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