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Iowa Poker Laws: Everything You Need to Know

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If you’re interested in playing poker in Iowa, you’ll need to know about the state’s gambling laws. In this blog post, we will discuss the ins and outs of Iowa poker laws so that you can stay within the law when you play.

We’ll cover topics such as what games are legal, how old you have to be to gamble, and more! So whether you’re a resident of Iowa or just visiting, make sure to read this blog post before hitting up your nearest casino or card room.

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Is Online Gambling Illegal In Iowa?

The short answer to the question is no; online gambling is not currently illegal in Iowa. However, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been efforts to make it illegal.

In 2012, a bill was passed by the Iowa Senate that would have legalized online poker. However, the bill died in the House, and nothing came of it. There have been other attempts since then, but none have been successful.

As of right now, there are no plans to consider any legislation regarding online gambling in the near future. So, Iowans can continue to enjoy playing poker online without fear of breaking the law.

Iowa Poker and Gambling Laws

Iowa is one of the few states that allows nearly every type of gambling offered in the United States. Iowa has everything from tribal riverboat casinos to racetracks to online gaming and sports betting.

Online poker is regulated under Iowa Code 99 and Iowa Code 725.5. Legal gambling in the state is defined as “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. The state takes a very lenient approach when it comes to gambling, which is good news for anyone who enjoys a flutter.

So whether you’re looking to play a hand of poker or place a bet on the ponies, you’ll find that Iowa has you covered.

An In-depth Look at Iowa Gambling Law

Iowa does have a considerable amount of regulated gambling and does restrict legal gambling to what is set forth in the regulations under Title 3, Public Services and Regulation, Subtitle 4, Gambling, of which Chapters 99 through 99G deal with the specific gambling regulations in the state of Iowa. (1)

We need not concern ourselves with the specific regulations here as they don’t really apply to poker other than poker that is licensed and regulated by the state, and there are a considerable number of legal live poker rooms in the state, which we will mention later.

What is of not here is that other than explicitly sanctioned gambling, whether it be poker, casino games, bingo, para-mutuel wagering, bingo, raffles, or what have you, these approved forms of gambling comprise all of the permitted gambling in Iowa. All other forms of gambling are deemed illegal by way of the Iowa Criminal Code.

The crime of “gaming and betting” reads as follows:

“Except as permitted in chapters 99B and 99D, a person shall not do any of the following:

  • Participate in a game for any sum of money or other property of any value.
  • Make any bet.
  • For a fee, directly or indirectly, give or accept anything of value to be wagered or to be transmitted or delivered for a wager to be placed within or without the state of Iowa.
  • For a fee, deliver anything of value which has been received outside the enclosure of a racetrack licensed under chapter 99D to be placed as wagers in the pari-mutuel pool or other authorized systems of wagering.

Iowa Gambling Law Resources

Iowa Doesn’t Mess Around Here With This

So while Iowa doesn’t have a specific definition of gambling, it does outlaw betting or wagering on anything not specifically in accordance with the gambling regulations as set forth in these chapters.

So this serves to provide a lot of clarity; unlike many other states, there is no debate as to whether a certain form of betting or wagering is against the law; if it is not permitted specifically in the law, then it is against the law.

iowa dont mess with laws

The penalties in Iowa for illegal gambling are pretty harsh compared to a lot of other states, and the penalties escalate depending on how much money is involved. The least serious offense involves a sum of one hundred dollars or less, although the determination of how this amount is to be counted isn’t made clear.

This involves a serious misdemeanor on the first offense, an aggravated misdemeanor on the second offense, and felony charges for subsequent convictions. The penalties are even harsher for gambling involving higher amounts. All of these offenses involve possible jail time, and the felony charges involve a possible sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. (3)

As well, all gambling proceeds during an arrest for this becomes subject to forfeiture by the state of Iowa, but this is limited to wagers staked, whether money or anything else of value that has been wagered or bet. (4)

Of course, having harsh laws and enforcing them harshly isn’t necessarily the same thing, and people aren’t being sent to jail in Iowa for merely gambling. However, the state does crack down on unauthorized gambling establishments, and devices like a lot of states do.

It is still wise to be aware of what the law is of course, and all unsanctioned gambling in Iowa, including home games and playing on the internet, is deemed to be a crime and at least potentially risks criminal penalties and forfeiture.

Short History of Gambling in Iowa

iowa farm

In 1833, the first settlers arrived in Iowa. Prior to that, the region had been inhabited by Native Americans and European traders. However, people began streaming into the area from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and other states.

When they arrived, the settlers were introduced to gambling habits brought over from Missouri’s territorial days. Despite the fact that the Missouri Territorial Legislature passed a law prohibiting wagering in 1814, the settlers took a chance.

However, Iowa settlers were not bound by anti-gambling legislation until 1838. The year after gambling was declared illegal in Iowa, it became a territory of the United States but also enacted its own statute allowing gambling debts to be collected.

According to some reports, Iowa was also the first Midwestern state to declare that any individual who “does or is suspected of getting his livelihood by gaming” is a vagrant and susceptible to imprisonment.

By the late 1980s, Iowans had come to accept gambling as a permanent fixture in their state. They realized it was wiser to regulate such activities than to allow them to continue illegally.

The Iowa legislature enacted the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Law in 1983, allowing organizations with the appropriate qualifications to apply for pari-mutuel wagering licenses on horse and dog racing. In July of 1983, Iowa’s first Racing Commission was established.

In 1992, the Department of Inspections and Appeals Director completed negotiations for three Native American Indian Tribal Gaming Agreements. The Winnebago People of Nebraska built WinnaVegas Casino in Lincoln is 1996, while the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska constructed CasinOmaha in Omaha.

In June 1994, Diamond Jo Casino became Iowa’s first non-tribal casino, with Catfish Bend opening shortly after.

The Future of Gambling in Iowa

Gambling is a popular pastime in Iowa, and the state offers a variety of options for those looking to take a chance. Casino gambling and horse racing are both popular choices, but many Iowans also enjoy playing poker.

Currently, however, poker is only offered in brick-and-mortar casinos and poker rooms. There is no legal way to play online poker for real money in Iowa.

This could change in the future, however, as lawmakers may be more likely to consider legalizing online poker if the state’s recent foray into online sports betting proves to be successful.

Online poker would provide an additional revenue stream for the state and give poker fans an easy way to play their favorite game from the comfort of their homes. While there is no guarantee that online poker will become legal in Iowa, it is certainly a possibility worth watching in the future.

Final Thoughts

future of online poker in iowa

Now that you know more about Iowa poker regulations, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to gamble online. Remember that it is always important to research the laws in your own state before gambling online, as the laws can change at any time.

If you decide to gamble online, be sure to choose a reputable site that offers a good selection of games and a strong reputation for fair play. With a little bit of research, you can find a great online poker site that will provide you with hours of fun and excitement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There Online Gambling in Iowa?

The short answer is that there isn’t yet. The laws surrounding online gambling in Iowa are still being worked out, and it may be some time before we have a clear picture of what will be allowed and what will not be allowed.

However, the fact that both sports betting and DFS have been legalized is a good sign that online gambling may eventually be legalized as well. Only time will tell, but for now, residents of Iowa can enjoy the many other forms of gambling that are available to them.

How Do the Current Laws Affect Players Living in Iowa? The current laws do not directly impact players living in Iowa. However, it is important to remember that the laws regarding online gambling are constantly changing. As such, it is always a good idea to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the world of online gambling.
What Are the Chances of Online Poker Being Legalized in Iowa? There is no way to know for sure, but the chances seem to be increasing. The recent legalization of sports betting and DFS in Iowa shows that lawmakers are becoming more open to online gambling. If these new laws prove to be successful, it is likely that online poker will eventually be legalized as well.

About the Author

Sadonna Price
Author Sadonna is a mom of two and an avid poker player who also enjoys online casino games. She has been part of the online gambling industry for over a decade, working as a news and blog writer. Sadonna still plays Texas hold’em in her free time while her daily job revolves around providing insights into the online gambling world using her creativity and writing skills.
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