HomeIowa Racing and Gaming Commission

In all states where gambling activities are legal, regulatory bodies provide a vital function to ensure all operations are run in a fair, safe manner. For Iowa bettors and betting operators, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC), which oversees the majority of the state’s gambling activities.

Here, we’ve provided an overview of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, including its functions, what forms of gambling the IRGC regulates, and the ways in which the commission contributes to the state’s economy.

What is the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission?

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is a five-member committee that regulates most gambling operations across the state. The commission was formed in 1983 after the passage of the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act.

Members of the IRGC are appointed by the Governor and affirmed by the Senate. To maintain objectivity and neutrality, members may not serve more than three terms without gubernatorial approval; also, at no time shall more than three members of the commission be affiliated with the same political party.

What forms of gambling does the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission regulate?

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission regulates the following forms of gambling and gaming:

  • Pari-mutuel horse race betting
  • Greyhound race betting
  • Retail sports betting
  • Online sports betting
  • Riverboat casinos
  • Casino slot machines
  • Casino table games
  • Casino poker
  • Daily fantasy sports contests

Does the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission regulate online casino gaming?

No, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission does not regulate online casino gaming, as online casinos are currently illegal under state law. However, should that legal status change, it is likely the IRGC would oversee Iowa online casino gambling operations in addition to its current duties.

How can one apply for a gambling license in Iowa?

You can apply for a gambling license in Iowa by submitting an application to the Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing (DIAL); they must also obtain a sales tax license from the Iowa Department of Revenue. To determine whether you need a license for your betting activities, contact the Iowa Social and Charitable Gambling Unit at (515) 281-6848.

How does the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission ensure responsible gambling practices?

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission ensures responsible gambling practices in several ways, focusing on both gambling operators and individual bettors.

At an operator level, the IRGC audits casinos, sportsbooks, and racing facilities to ensure that revenue and payouts are tracked correctly. Reports on these audits are publicly available to help grant peace of mind that gambling companies are above board in how they run betting activities.

Additionally, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission conducts or authorizes longitudinal studies on the public health and safety risks associated with gambling, as well as researching other betting verticals (such as online gambling) to be proactive about responsible gambling in future betting endeavors.

For individuals, the IRGC maintains Iowa’s gambling self-exclusion program, which allows players to prohibit themselves from registering for gambling sites and from entering betting venues. Those in the program can remove themselves from all wagering activities for five years or impose a lifetime ban.

What are the penalties for violating gaming regulations in Iowa?

The penalties for violating gaming regulations in Iowa are dependent on the nature of the violation and on the party (or parties) committing the offense. For example, individuals who operate a gambling excursion without a license are subject to a gross misdemeanor while those caught cheating at a casino are guilty of a Class D Felony and will be banned from all gaming facilities in the state.

Gambling facilities that permit underage individuals or those in the gambling self-exclusion program to enter their venues are subject to fines of no less than $20,000 for a first-time offense; repeat offenders can be shut down and have their licenses revoked.

How does the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission contribute to the state's economy?

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission contributes to the state’s economy by collecting tax revenues from gambling operators and ensuring those funds are disbursed to worthy causes around Iowa. According to the IRGC, gambling taxes have resulted in more than $7 billion in revenue for the state between 1985 and 2022.

The money collected by the commission goes largely to Iowa’s General Fund, which can be used for a wide variety of projects and programs. Monies also go to the Gambler’s Assistance Fund, the County Endowment Fund, and the Special Fund, which promotes tourism and cultural activities across the state.