HomeIowa Responsible Gambling

Iowa Responsible Gambling

On this page, you will learn about how to practice responsible gambling in Iowa and how to help combat betting addiction.

| Last Updated:
Table of contents

Whether you’re a seasoned gambling veteran or someone relatively new to the betting universe, you’ve still likely heard the phrase “always gamble responsibly,” or another phrase with similar meaning.

But what is responsible gambling and why is it so important? In this piece, we’ll answer both of those questions and explain how you can be on the lookout for problematic betting behaviors.

Responsible gambling overview

Simply put, responsible gambling is all efforts made to ensure betting activities are done in a legal, safe, upright, and non-addictive fashion. These efforts manifest in the practices of the state regulatory agencies, betting operators, and most importantly the individual participating in gambling actions.

In a legal sense, Iowa gambling operators must ensure all patrons are permitted to gamble under state law, which typically includes requiring proof of age and identity. This also means confirming that there are no other disqualifying factors such as a person’s occupation, entry on a self-exclusion list, criminal history, or other characteristics that could disrupt gaming integrity or safety.

Legislators in states where gambling is permitted may also set operating guidelines with which operators must comply. This can include defining permissible and impermissible marketing practices, ensuring games are run within fair play requirements, and that the operators are making responsible gambling materials easily accessible.

On an individual level, steps you can take to reinforce responsible gambling behavior include setting time and money limits on online betting platforms and gambling venues, and informing yourself about warning signs of gambling addiction.

Problem gambling resources in Iowa

While you can find similar support from national organizations, it can at times be more convenient to get help from a local source. Here are a few of the top problem gambling resources in Iowa.

  • Your Iowa Life: Your Iowa Life specializes in mental health treatment services and provides free support in combating gambling addiction in a confidential manner. Their services also cover issues with drugs, alcohol, and thoughts of suicide, each of which can accompany gambling addiction. Their website can be found at https://yourlifeiowa.org/ or by phone at 855-581-8111.
  • Financial counseling: The Iowa Office of Problem Gambling Prevention & Treatment Services has set up financial counseling services to allow those who are suffering from a gambling disorder to learn how to take control of their money through budgeting classes and setting up debt reduction plans. You can connect with this office by sending an email to [email protected].
  • Iowa Self-Exclusion Program: One excellent tool to be proactive about responsible gambling is to apply for Iowa’s gambling self-exclusion program. This program will add you to a registry that will prevent you from being able to sign up for gambling accounts and from entering casinos or other gambling facilities. When applying, you can choose a minimum one-year prohibition or a lifetime restriction.

Nationwide problem gambling resources

Problem gambling resources are also available at a national level, which can help provide more high-level support. Here are a few of the main resources nationwide.

  • National Problem Gambling Helpline: The National Problem Gambling Helpline is an extension of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The free, confidential service is available 24/7/365 with both English and Spanish language options available. You can contact them at 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-8597).
  • Gamblers Anonymous: Gamblers Anonymous (frequently shortened to GA) was founded in 1957 and follows a 12-step recovery method akin to Alcoholics Anonymous. The fellowship has since spread internationally and focuses on self-reflection to identify and eliminate compulsive gambling behaviors through a “20 Questions” approach. You can learn more about GA by visiting https://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/.
  • GamTalk: GamTalk is an online peer support platform that is moderated by a team of experts who encourage open, honest dialogue about issues compulsive gamblers are facing. The site features a live chat, community wall, and stories of hope to encourage others on the road to recovery. Visit the GamTalk website at https://www.gamtalk.org/ to learn more.

Advice for gambling responsibly

While only a small percentage of gamblers deal with a compulsion, it’s important to practice responsible gambling habits at all times. Here is some of our best advice for gambling responsibly.

  • Avoid betting at emotional extremes: In gambling spaces, playing at an emotional extreme (positive or negative) is often referred to as “tilting.” In much the same way as a boat on the water is more likely to capsize when the mast is leaning too far to either side, you too can end up sinking without keeping things as level as possible.
  • Don’t chase your losses: Chasing your losses refers to risking progressively larger amounts of money to recoup all your losses in one swing. This is a good way to end up deep in the hole in a short amount of time. Keeping your betting unit (the amount you wager) consistent will help you maintain focus and avoid racking up gambling debts.
  • Set limits: Online gambling operators have tools you can use within your betting account to set time and financial limits on their platforms. They also have “cooldown periods” available where you won’t be able to make any wagers or move finances so you can take a break from gambling.

Warning signs for problem gambling

The best way to prevent problem gambling is to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of gambling compulsion. Here are some of the most common behaviors to be aware of:

  • Becoming increasingly obsessed with gambling and winning big
  • Trivializing betting losses and/or lying about their amounts and
  • frequency
  • Heightened anxiousness or irritability
  • Using gambling as an escape from reality
  • Needing to be bailed out financially
  • Frequent asking to borrow money
  • Stealing money to gamble or pay off betting debts
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Skipping work or other commitments to gamble
  • Chasing losses
  • Making unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling

Responsible gaming best practices for gambling operators

Gambling operators also hold some responsibility for making sure bettors are as safe as possible when using their services. Here are a few of the best practices for gambling operators.

  • Keep resources available: Casinos, betting apps, and gambling websites are required to have responsible gaming resource materials available at all times. It should be an instant red flag that a gambling operator isn’t legit if they make responsible gaming information hard to find.
  • Make it easy to self-exclude: In-person gambling facilities will have personnel stationed to help you enroll in Iowa’s self-exclusion program. They will be able to walk you through the application process and clearly explain things.
  • Maintain compliance: Gambling operators are required to maintain compliance with gaming integrity and consumer protection standards established by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Another warning sign that a gambling platform is less-than-legit is if you don’t see IRGC insignia anywhere on the site or at the facility.


When done the right way, with careful moderation and a high degree of self-awareness, gambling can be an enjoyable experience. However, compulsive gambling is an illness and a serious condition. Fortunately, like other illnesses, gambling compulsion can be treated, and with the right safeguards in place, you can mitigate the risk of developing a betting addiction.

If you’re going to gamble, please do so in a safe and responsible manner. Furthermore, if you do not feel you can responsibly participate in betting activities, we highly encourage you to refrain from gambling in any form!


Are there specific policies or initiatives aimed at preventing underage gambling in Iowa?

Yes, there are specific policies and initiatives aimed at preventing underage gambling in Iowa. State law requires bettors to be at least 21 years of age to participate in gambling activities (with exceptions for charitable and social gambling), and there are penalties in place for gambling or attempting to gamble while underage. Additionally, gambling operators are not permitted to market their products to those under the legal age.

Can friends or family members request assistance for a loved one with a gambling problem?

Yes, friends and family members can request assistance for a loved one with a gambling problem. While several steps towards treating compulsive gambling will require effort from the affected individual, a strong support system is essential for combatting gambling addiction. In Iowa, family and friends can find assistance by calling 1-800-GAMBLER or by visiting https://yourlifeiowa.org/.

Can I set limits on my gambling spending in Iowa casinos or online platforms?

Yes, you can set limits on your gambling spending at Iowa online betting platforms. This can be done in the “account management” section of the website or app. However, at a casino, this can be a bit more difficult. We recommend only taking money into the casino that you can afford to lose.

What are the potential legal and financial consequences of gambling addiction in Iowa?

The potential legal and financial consequences of gambling addiction in Iowa can be quite severe. Racking up gambling debts can result in losing your job, your home, your car, or needing to file for bankruptcy. Engaging in criminal activity to finance gambling habits could result in jail time, steep fines, or a combination of the two.