DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - One of the highlights of 2019 was the journey of how sports betting came to be in our state.
The pivotal point for sports betting actually began in 2018; when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports wagering. The following April, Governor Kim Reynolds then signed the bill legalizing sports betting in Iowa.
"For years, if you wanted to place a bet on a sports game, you had to do it illegally or go to Las Vegas," said Thomas Roberts, Vice President and General Manager of Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo. "When the ruling came in that you can do it anywhere, our legislature took that as a way that we could benefit our state through tax purposes."
Rules and regulations surrounding sports betting were still in the works after the bill was signed. In the following weeks, casinos across the state began building and prepping sportsbooks in their venues.
The first day of legal sports betting took place on August 19th. Some athletic Hall-of-Famers that dropped in to try Iowa's new sportsbooks included former Chicago Cub, Andre Dawson, and former Green Bay Packer, Antonio Freeman.
"This is a great opportunity for people to get out of the house and be around people with the same common like and have a good time and watch sports," said Freeman at the Diamond Jo Casino's sportsbook opening day. "What's better than watching sports?"
However, it was not only the casino floors that saw action. Mobile sports apps also became a hit, as they allowed people the ability to place a bet at home or on-the-go.
"So you'll see TV ratings go up in certain markets in places where sports betting is happening," said Kevin Hennessy, Director of Publicity for mobile sportsbook FanDuel. "Because they'll place a bet on the NBC game even though it has nothing to do with Iowa."
Since opening, the Diamond Jo Casino has generated more than $35,000 in state revenue; the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo made about $85,000.
Since August, sports betting in Iowa has generated about $1.2 million.