Iowa’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City Celebrates Sportsbook Grand Opening

  • First Iowa sportsbook to use Gaming Innovation Group’s technology
  • Facility is 400 square feet, has four betting windows
  • Retail sportsbook only, mobile and online to come soon
  • Bettors must register in person for internet sports betting
Football odds betting board at a Las Vegas casino sportsbook.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City opened the 14th sportsbook in Iowa on Friday. [Image: Shutterstock]

Hard Rock and GiG team up

Another competitor joined Iowa’s sports betting market on Friday as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City launched its new sportsbook. Both the retail sportsbook and future mobile betting app are powered by Malta-based Gaming Innovation Group (GiG).

Hard Rock is the 14th casino to open a sportsbook in Iowa, slightly more than a month after sports betting went live in the Hawkeye State. It is the first sportsbook to use GiG’s technology.

All the other casinos have partnered with either William Hill or Elite, the former of which uses the Bet.Works platform.

Hard Rock is the 14th casino to open a sportsbook in Iowa

Two more Iowa casinos – WinnaVegas Casino Resort and Blackbird Bend Casino – are expected to begin accepting sports wagers in the next few months.

First bet a winner

The retail sportsbook at Hard Rock Sioux City is relatively small compared to the massive betting venues opening up around the country, coming in at just 400 square feet. There are four betting windows.

Dakin Schultz, president of the Missouri River Historical Development, the non-profit organization that holds the gaming license in the county, placed the first bet at the new sportsbook on Friday.

He bet on the Iowa State Cyclones to beat the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in college football, though he admitted he didn’t know anything about Louisiana-Monroe. Iowa State won easily, 72-20, so Schultz won if he bet the moneyline or the spread.

Schultz said it was “an honor” to place the ceremonial first bet at Hard Rock.

In-person betting only for now

Hard Rock Sioux City’s sportsbook operations director, Anthony Torres, already opened the Hard Rock Atlantic City sportsbook. Torres told the Sioux City Journal that

This day was a long time in coming but I’m very excited.”

Those who want to place bets at Hard Rock Sioux City will have to make the trip to the casino to do so in person. Though online and mobile sports betting are permitted in Iowa, Hard Rock has yet to launch its internet product.

“Guests will probably be able to make plans for mobile and online sports betting in the next month or so,” explained Mike Adams, the casino’s vice president of operations. “Right now, sports betting is only being done at our betting windows.”

When Hard Rock’s mobile and online betting do kick off, bettors will have to jump though a minor hoop to start playing.

Iowa regulations require bettors to register in person at the casino in order to bet online. The rule will be in place until 2021 and is expected to slow down online betting slightly. Hard Rock Sioux City has a registration form on its website that can be printed and brought to the casino.

Iowa’s early numbers solid

Iowa’s sports betting market will always be relatively small compared to states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but it is off to a good start.

The first financial figures released by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on September 13th showed that through the first 17 days the industry was live, Iowa books took in $8,576,246 in handle. From those wagers, they made $2,161,688 in revenue, with $145,914 in tax going to the state.

Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino was the runaway leader with $3,411,885 in handle. Ameristar was its closest competitor taking $1,364,723 in bets. They were the only two sportsbooks with more than $1,000,000 in handle. The revenue numbers were much closer: Prairie Meadows was at $532,771, while Ameristar came in at $480,650.