Ohio poker laws - ultimate iowa guide to poker legality

With a population of over 11 million, Iowa ranks as the 30th largest state by population in the US. It's also the 26th largest state by area.

Iowa is an agricultural state and is known for its fields of corn and soybeans, earning it the nickname "The Corn State".

When Iowaans aren't working or tending to their crops, many enjoy playing poker both offline and online.

Is poker legal in Ohio? This page explains the laws that apply to both online and land-based poker in Iowa, including information on state licensed casinos and card rooms along with reports from experience Iowa players.


  • While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of this documentation, we cannot be held liable for any consequences, including but not limited to monetary consequences, arising from the use of information listed here.
  • Legal gambling age varies across the country and is subject to change, so it is your responsibility to verify that you understand the giggling age in your province.


  • 1 Iowa Gambling Laws
  • | Section |
  • |:------------------------------ |
  • | 1. Introduction to Iowa Poker |
  • | 2. Current Key People in Iowa |
  • | 3. Iowa Poker Laws and Rules |
  • | 4. Iowa Casino Laws & List |
  • | 5. Iowa Gambling Resources |

1. Introduction to Iowa Poker

Iowa has several casinos where anyone over the age of 18+ can go and play games like blackjack and roulette. However, the legal gambling age in Iowa to play the lottery is 21.

There are some fantastic casinos in the state, such as Harrah's Council Bluffs, which is part of Caesars Entertainment and offers players a World Series of Poker experience without leaving Iowa. The Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City is another great option, offering stunning views of the Missouri River.

While there are no card rooms in Iowa, live poker rooms can be found inside most casinos. Players can head to Hinky Dinks, an unlicensed bar in Cedar Rapids, for non-profit cash games and tournaments. These games are technically illegal, but it's a gray area of the law and police generally turn a blind eye to these activities.

Online poker is not specifically outlawed in Iowa. There are no laws against playing online or running an online poker site from outside of the US. There are also no records of anyone being arrested for playing poker online in Iowa. This has lead some foreign poker sites to open their doors to Iowa poker players. One major poker site pulled out of the US market after "Black Friday", but more on that later.

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2. Key People in Iowa Poker

John Racener - John is one half of the most famous chop ever, chopping with Durrrr Challenge famer Durrrr for just under $5 million. Racener has four WSOP bracelets and ten cashes to his name. His total live earnings are almost $9 million.

Tom Dawn - Tom is an Iowan lawyer who specializes in gambling law. He has worked on several high profile cases, including Fantasy Sports versus the State of Florida and the Wire Act.

Chris Moneymaker - While not from Iowa, Chris Moneymaker is important to Iowa poker history because he is the reason that poker took off in the United States and beyond. When he won his seat to the 2003 WSOP Main Event via a PokerStars poker $33 satellite, no one could have predicted the chain of events that would follow. His victory sparked a huge surge of interest in Texas Hold'em and online poker, leading to the US Department of Justice outlawing online gaming with the exception of sports betting. This opened the door for international poker sites to operate legally in the US, like Bovada.

3. Iowa Poker Laws and Online Regulations

There are few state laws in Iowa that deal directly with gambling. Most of the relevant legislation can be found in Chapter 725 of the Iowa Code of Laws, which is titled "Betting, Gaming and Sweepstakes." Below are some sections that are of particular interest to poker players.

It's worth noting that all of the following codes refer to risking "something of value" which could be as simple as buying into a non profit poker game with an admission fee.

Section 725.1 (permitted forms of gambling):

This section outlines the types of gambling permitted in the state of Iowa. Permitted forms of gambling include:

- Protection plans

- Bingo games run by religious or charitable organizations

- Charity raffles

- Poker games run by certain organizations

-$1 pull tabs and bingo

- Keno

- Simulcasting

-- Horse race betting

- Charitable gambling (including games of poker) if three years have passed since the establishment was last denied a license

Section 725.3 (gambling probhibited):

Except as provided in this chapter, whoever plays or engages in any game, whether for profit or not, in any of the following places is guilty of a serious misdemeanor:

- Saloon

- Coal company store

- Company town

- Public school house

-- Church

- Synagogue

- Mess hall of any vessel

- Vehicle or camp

-- Any place constituting the dwelling house of any person

An exception is made for members of a family playing together or for any game played solely for charity. Something of "substantial value" must be involved for it to be considered gambling.

Section 725.4 (penalties):

Anyone found guilty of violating Section 725.3 may be fined up to $625 or sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

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Section 725.5 (private social gaming):

This section allows players to engage in "social gaming" unless they are professional gamblers. Two exceptions to this rule are mentioned in the code. One, the game cannot take place in a place dedicated to gambling. And two, something of "substantial value" cannot be won within a one year period. The code defines "substantial value" as $2000 or more in any one day, or more than $6000 within a one year period.

Related expenses, profits from previous "social gaming" sessions and tips cannot be included when calculating winnings. Anyone found guilty of violating this code face a fine of up to $625, imprisonment of up to one year, or both.

Section 725.6 (cash table games prohibited):

This code makes it illegal to operate "banked cards" games except in casinos licensed by the state of Iowa. Whoever knowingly operates such a game commits a serious misdemeanor and may face a fine of up to $625, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. Playing the game only results in a simple bond offense, punishable by a fine of up to $65.

Section 725.7 (charitable gaming):

Non-profit organizations can obtain a license to offer bingo, pull tabs and tip boards, raffles, poker and chuck-a-luck. Organizations must have been established for at least three years before applying for a license, unless they were established by the merger of two organizations with a combined operating history of at least six years.

All profits from gambling activities must be donated to a charitable cause. There are limits to how much an organization can spend on gifts for winning the top prize on tip boards and who is eligible to receive them.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission regulates charitable and commercial gambling in the state. Commercial establishments must pay a license fee of $50,000. Non profit organizations must pay a license fee of $500.

There are some interesting tidbits in this code. For starters, a board is defined as "any table game played with cards or other devices upon which it is possible to lose something of value". Also, directors, officers and employees of an establishment are banned from playing table games on the premises.

Directors, officers and employees of an establishment are allowed to play bingo, tip boards, pull tabs and raffles at any time. Immediate family members of directors, officers and employees are also banned from playing table games at any time.

Section 725.10 (credit for gambling):

This code states that no credit may be allowed a player in any form of gambling, except in casinos licensed by the state of Iowa. Lending money at interest for gambling purposes is also prohibited. Offering credit or accepting interest for doing so is a Class "C" felony.

Section 725.12 (wire act):

Whoever knowingly uses wire communication facilities to transmit bets, information about bets or related to gambling commits a serious misdemeanor. Those found guilty may be fined up to $625, imprisoned for up to one year, or both.

A later amendment to this code refers to the Federal Wire Act, which makes it illegal to use communication facilities to place bets or wagers or to conduct, finish, influence or settle any bet or wager in interstate or foreign commerce if the resolution of said bet or wager uses wire communications in any way.

Operational or technical personnel of common carriers and their officers, agents and employees are exempt from this code. So are persons acting on behalf of a law enforcement agency that is investigating the unlawful operation of a wire communication facility used in violation of this code.

Section 725.12A (carnival game exemption):

This code exempts operators of carnivals, circuses and fairs from the definition of "gambler" as outlined in earlier gambling-related codes. The purpose of this code is to allow these operators to participate in games they operate in accordance with Chapter 725.

Section 725.13 (fantasy sports contests):

This code defines a fantasy sport as "a game offered over the Internet or other interactive computer service or telecommunications system by a fantasy sports operator in which, for a fee, participants, known as fans, select individual real world athletes to constitute a team or teams…..and compete against other fans' teams…..The record of the performances of actual real world athletes…..constitutes the final outcome of the game…..No two teams are opposed to each other with respect to the same athlete…..And no team owns or is entitled to the services of more than one of the real world athletes."

This code goes on to outline the types of fees that fantasy sports websites can charge and the prizes they can offer. It also outlines what constitutes a "prize".

Section 725.13A (interactive media services):

Interactive media services allow users to play games for a chance to win cash prizes. There are certain restrictions regarding who can participate in these games and the types of prizes that can be awarded. This code also outlines what constitutes a "prize".

Section 725.13B (online sweeps):

This code outlines what constitutes "sweepsts" and lays down rules regarding how such promotions can be run. It also details what constitutes a "prize".

Section 725.13D (skill games):

Skill game operators may charge a fee and award prizes to winners. This code outlines the maximum amount of the fee and prizes. It also lists the types of skill games that are exempt from this section.

Section 725.13F (online gambling):

This code makes it clear that nothing in chapters 725 through 732 shall be construed as authorizing or licensing any person to operate an internet sports pool or an internet gambling business, or to participate in an internet sports pool or internet gambling activity, or to bet or wager money or anything else of value in concert with others through the use of the Internet or any other communication method commonly known as 'online gambling', regardless of whether the person utilizes servers located within or without this state for such purpose.

A later amendment adds a new subsection (5)" which states that this code does not apply to fantasy sports contests operated in accordance with section 725.13. It also does not apply to online sweepstakes operated in accordance with section 725.13B or skill games operated in accordance with section 725.13D.

Section 725.13G (Daily Fantasy Sports):

This code requires operators of Daily Fantasy Sports contests to register with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission by paying a $10,000 registration fee and providing detailed financial reports. Operators must ensure that at least 15% of all revenue generated in the state is paid out as prizes.

The Iowa Attorney General published an opinion stating that DFS constituted gambling under Iowa law. This opinion was issued in response to a request from Senator Roby Smith.

Section 725.13H (Fantasy Sports Integrity):

Amendments to this code require all players to be at least 18 years old and reside in the United States. Players must also provide their Social Security numbers before receiving prizes. Operators must perform background checks on their executives and key employees to ensure they are not barred from the gaming industry in any other state or jurisdiction.

Operators must also implement measures to prevent minors from participating in contests, ensure players in a single contest are geographically located in different states to avoid collusion, ban employees of a sports team from participating in contests featuring players from their team, and ensure players can only pick a player once per contest. Failures to adhere to these rules can result in an operator's license being revoked.

Section 725.13J (Master Server Exemption):

This code creates an exemption for a "master server" that provides information to players in this state who participate in a fantasy sports contest operated in accordance with section 725.13G. A master server does not constitute an interactive gambling device or electronic transaction machine as defined in Section 725.1. An operator of a master server is not required to be registered with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and is exempt from the application and investigation fees set forth in Section 99B.1.

Section 725.13K (Sports Wagering):

This code authorizes the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to adopt rules to implement sports wagering in the state. It outlines the responsibilities of the Commission and what their rules must cover. Operators of retail and online sportsbooks must pay a $100,00 license fee and a 10.625% tax on gross receipts.

The Iowa Governor signed SF617 into law on May 13 2019, making the Hawkeye state the eleventh to regulate sports betting. The first Iowa sportsbooks opened in the summer of 2019.

4. Iowa Casino Laws

The following code outlines the types of games authorized in licensed casinos. It's worth pointing out that something of "substantial value" must be bet in order for a game to fall under the remit of this code.

- Banked card games

- Banked table games (excluding banked card games)

- Electronic games

- Games played with dice

- Games played with chips or other devices

- Musters or auctions for substantial value articles donated for charitable purposes

- Wheel of fortune or similar type games

There are a few caveats. Firstly, the house cannot change the odds of a game. Secondly, a player cannot play a game without a valid identification card on the gaming device or table at a cost of more than $10 per twenty four hour period. Thirdly, a person employed by or associated with the operator of a casino gaming establishment cannot play a banked game in that establishment unless the person has been absent from the gaming area for at least thirty minutes. Fourthly, someone who has won more than $2000 in a single day at a banked table game must be identified.

Section 725.7A(2): No banked table games shall be conducted on the premises of any establishment other than a casino.

_Definition - "Banked table game" means a table game, other than a banked card game, the success of the player at which depends upon knowledge, skill or luck, in which a banker, usually the house, supplies the player or players with opposing banks the Banker usually employs dealers who distribute cards, handles money, and keeps score."

Section 725.7A(3) No person knowingly operating an establishment other than a casino shall permit or allow banked card games to be played on the premises.

_Definition - "Banked card game" means a card game, whether played with a partner or alone, in which the success of the player or players depends in part upon chance and in part upon skill, where the players remit a stake, ante, blind, or other similar term to the person operating the game, often called the banker, who likewise deals the hand or hands and is obligated only to those players who remit stakes to him or her."

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In simple terms, this means that only casinos are licensed to offer poker games in Iowa. Non-profit organizations can host poker games as long as they are not banked, meaning the house doesn't take a cut and simply acts as a dealer. Players take turns acting as the banker.

5. Iowa Gambling Resources

Poker Rooms

Iowa has nine poker rooms spread over eight casinos. As you will see from the list below, most casinos have one main poker room. Harbor Birch Creek has two smaller poker rooms.

The number of tables in each room is based on the number of players. During peak times, HBC AmericanPokerHub Club can accommodate 27 players and HBC Cardroom can hold 14.

As you can see from Poker Atlas, there aren't many games spread in Iowa. Cash games are almost always NLHE or PLO. Occasionally you might find a game of Seven Card Stud. Tournaments are almost always Hold'em, although Omaha is featured occasionally.

Most casinos spread daily and weekly tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $65 to $360 and priepools between $500 and $5000. Occasionally there'll be a bigger tournament. For example Catfish Bend Riverfront Resort & Casino hosts an annual $75k Guaranteed event with a $1000 buy-in.

Cash games typically start at $1/$2 for Hold’em and $2/$5 for PLO. Blinds may go as high as $3/$6 NLHE and $5/$10 PLO. Hinkle's has a $50/$100 PLO game that generates a decent amount of cash action.

Iowa poker players tend to travel to neighboring states to play. Illinois and Missouri are popular destinations because there are far more games available. Some Iowa grinders venture even further afield to St. Louis or Milwaukee.

Ashley's Poker Room

*\- Limit Hold'em / Omaha: $1/$2

\- No Limit Hold'em: $1/$2, $2/$5

Omaha Hi/Lo: $2/$5

Catfish Bend Riverfront Resort & Casino

*Poker Room is currently closed


*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Isle Casino Waterloo

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Harborside Casino

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Harlows Casino - Riverside

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Meskwaki Bingo Casino - Tulip

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Meskwaki Bingo Casino - Settling

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Prairie Flower Casino & Hotel

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Q Casino

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

RedHawk Casino

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Riverside Casino Ft. Madison

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Rhythm City Casino Resort

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

The Island Resort Casino

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino - Riverside

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino – Downtown

*Denotes a Bad Beat Jackpot Game

Horse Betting

Iowa has several racetracks where players can bet on live horse racing action. There are no racetracks left in the state, but races do take place in nearby Illinois and South Dakota. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission regulates historical horse racing machines, advanced deposit wagering and on track wagering.

Advanced deposit wagering (ADW) allows customers to deposit money into a account and wager using that balance. Funds can be added to an ADW account at any time and withdrawals can be requested at any time. Payments can be made via check, money order, cashier’s check, bank wire or direct deposit. Proof of identity may be required prior to withdrawal.

The minimum age to bet on horses in Iowa is 18. You have to be 21+ to cross state lines to bet on horses in South Dakota. Iowa poker players can also travel to Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin to bet on horses.

Greyhound Betting

You have to be at least 21 to bet on dogs in Iowa. Advanced deposit wagering is permitted and funds can be transferred between accounts if both accounts are owned by the same natural person. Live betting is available at Davenport, Dubuque, Murray, Oklahoma, Waterloo and West Union Race Track. Online betting is available via the Iowa Gambling website.

There are no active racetracks in Iowa. Racing did occur at these venues in the past:

  • Clinton

  • Council Bluffs

  • Davenport

  • Dubuque

  • Burlington

  • Emmetsburg

  • Fort Dodge

  • Jefferson

  • Keokuk

  • Mount Sterling

  • Ottumwa

  • Red Oak

  • Spencer

  • Waterloo

Racing also occurred at Okoboji, Spencer and West Union. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission oversees parimutuel wagering on greyhounds.


Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto America, 2by2, Pick 3, Pick 4 and Scratch games are available in Iowa. Players have to be at least 21. Online play is available via the Iowa Lottery app/website and tickets can be delivered electronically. Winning tickets can be claimed online too.

Dog and Horse Betting Online

Advanced deposit wagering is permitted in Iowa and a number of operators offer ADW. Iowa poker players should be aware that only operators licensed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission are permitted to offer ADW to residents of the state. It’s probably wise to only use ADW platforms approved by the regulator.

There are dozens of overseas sportsbooks and poker sites that accept players from Iowa. We recommend you exercise caution if you decide to sign up with one of these sites. Make sure you read hundreds of independent reviews and only join a site that has overwhelmingly positive feedback. Better yet, choose one of our trusted poker sites listed above.

Bitcooin Poker Sites

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin aren’t legal tender in Iowa and have no inherent value. This means there’s no need for Bitcoin poker sites. When Bitcoin was first introduced, it was accepted by a handful of online poker sites. Today very few operators accept Bitcoin and even fewer Iowa poker players.

Iowa Gambling Addiction Help

  • Is online poker legal in Iowa?

    There are no laws specifically addressing online poker or any other online gambling games. This means it's effectively decriminalized and you can play online poker with impunity. That doesn't mean we recommend you play online. Most Iowa poker players head to other states to play poker online.

  • Can I play poker in Iowa?

    Yes you can. Iowa has nine poker rooms spread over eight casinos. Unfortunately there aren't many games spread and most of the action occurs in LLHE and PLO cash games and Hold'em tournaments. If you want a bigger selection of games, we recommend heading to another state such as Illinois or Missouri.

  • Is it legal to home games for money in Iowa?

    Non-profit organizations can host card games Provided they are not banked games (see question four). Directors, officers and employees of the establishment, as well as their spouses and children under 21, are banned from playing banked games. Immediate family members of directors, officers and employees of the establishment are also banned from playing table games.

  • Where is the best place to play poker in Des Moines?

    Des Moines doesn’t have any poker rooms, but there are venues within a short drive. Many Iowa poker players head to the Casinos in Council Bluffs (Horseshoe Casino, Ameristar Casino Hotel, Harrah's Council Bluffs), the cardrooms in Clive (Davey's On The Strip, Hinkle's Casino, HBC AmericanPokerHub Club, Q Casino, Prairie Flower Casino & Hotel, Catfish Bend Riverfront Resort & Casino, Harlows Casino - Riverside, Meskwaki Bingo Casino - Tulip, Meskwaki Bingo Casino - Settling, RedHawk Casino, Rhythm City Casino Resort, The Island Resort Casino, Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino - Riverside, Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino – Downtown.

    All of these venues spread a selection of cash games and tournaments. Horseshoe Council Bluffs has the biggest poker room with ten tables but activity is heavily reliant on the number of players in the room. Generally there are around five or six tables in action at any one time at the Des Moines casinos. Based on customer reviews, HBC AmericanPokerHub Club tends to have the best games and most reliable action.

  • What is the legal poker age in Iowa?

    You have to be 21+ to play poker in Iowa's casinos. Some charitable organizations are allowed to run poker games for people 18 and over but the games must not be banked (see question four).

  • Are backgammon machines legal in Iowa?

    Yes - provided they are not situated in a bar or tavern and do not dispense cash tickets. All dispensers of internal coin mechanisms must be located in eating places that are not bars or taverns and none of the internal coin mechanisms of such dispensers may be designed or used to pay cash tickets.

  • Does Iowa have riverboats?

    Iowa has several casinos, but very few of them are located on a boat or a river. The Iowa Legislature passed a law allowing riverboat casinos in 1983. The idea behind riverboat casinos was to limit gambling to overnight trips with the casino operations confined to the water.

    Most Iowa casinos now have a land-based and hotel accommodations. In fact some of them are enormous, sprawling resorts on multiple floors. But technically speaking, they still have to abide by the rules of riverboat casinos. That means they have to be permanently docked and open less than 12.5 hours a day. Slot machines and table games have to be taken out to sea and returned to shore when the casino closes.

  • What is Chris Moneymaker's connection to Iowa?

    Despite being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2019, Chris Moneymaker has never played poker in Iowa. He did however help Harrahs Council Bluffs reopen in 2004. The $15 million dollar project created 140 jobs and doubled the size of the venue to ten acres and 100,000 square feet.

  • Did John Hennigan really cheat in Iowa?

    Reports suggest John Hennigan cheated at Hinkles Casino back in 2008. Locals alleged that the poker pro had marked decks during a tournament and enlisted a female friend to sit next to him so she could feed him hole cards. Hennigan denied the allegations but didn’t dispute the fact he was caught marking cards.

    According to eyewitness reports, Hennigan was seen putting saliva on the cards and blowing on them in order to reposition certain bets. When staff asked him to stop, he ignored them. The incident caused division among Iowa poker players. Some believed the report, others suggested it was part of a smear campaign.

    Hennigan was eventually banned from Hinkles and other Harrah’s properties. He sued for wrongful dismissal and received a settlement of $75,000. The marking incident was mentioned in a police report, but no charges were pressed. Hennigan was also accused of cheating in other casinos around the US and was eventually banned from the PCA in the Bahamas. Despite all these allegations, he continued to play poker professionally until 2019, during which time he won ten WSOP bracelets and over $7million.

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