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Online Poker in Iowa: Best Legal, Reputable Sites for Hawkeyes in 2019

Iowa state map
Iowa's state flag

Iowa may be seen as a fairly standard, run-of-the-mill Midwestern state, but below that exterior, there is the life of a fairly progressive gambling state that's mostly unexpected. Iowa is home to many different types of gambling options, and in terms of sheer volume, the choices are unmistakable. One thing that's lacking though is real money regulated Iowa online poker. While there have been discussions to make this a reality, it just isn’t there yet. Luckily, there are great options for online poker in Iowa as offshore sites offer a full array of gambling options for those in the state to take advantage of. We have compiled a list of those options for you to read about and make the best choice for your playing needs.



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Table of Contents

1.   Poker Sites
      1.1. Ignition
      1.2. Chico Poker Network
      1.3. Intertops
      1.4. Winning Poker Network
      1.5. Grand Poker Network
2.   Selection Guidelines
3.   Payments
4.   Laws
5.   Gambling History
6.   Regulated Poker?
7.   Live Gambling
8.   Conclusion
9.   Address in Nearby State?
10. FAQ
11. Additional Resources

 

Online Poker Sites Available in Iowa

The poker sites available to Iowans are mostly upstanding, reputable organizations, but there are a few that you ought to be wary of because they're not all on the up and up. Fortunately, we've done the work of identifying those that will treat you right, and we've presented them below. Whichever of these sites you opt to play at, you'll get to enjoy fully featured, up-to-date software, fairly run games, and the timely payout of your winnings. Read what we have to say about them, and then sign up at the one that seems most tempting to you.

 

    Ignition Poker

Positives of Ignition Poker

You'll find tons of tables running at all hours of the day at Ignition Poker because it's the biggest site for online poker in the United States. When you deposit for the first time, you'll receive a poker bonus of 100% up to $1,000. The clearance rate of the bonus in tournaments and sit-and-goes is 30% although it is a bit less in cash games. 

CTA Play Now Banner for Ignition

No Limit Texas Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, and Pot Limit Omaha/8 cash games can be found from $0.02/$0.05 through $10/$20. In addition, there are tables of Limit Hold'em and Limit Omaha/8 as high as $30/$60. Ignition is the only place in the U.S. market for fast-fold poker, which it calls Zone Poker. When you join a Zone pool, you won't have a designated table and seat. Instead, whenever you fold your hand, you'll be brought to a new table and get another set of hole cards. The action is pretty fast in Zone, and you can play three or four times as many hands per hour as you could at a regular table.

Sit-and-goes beckon from $1 + $0.05 to $200 + $14. Besides the normal formats that you can find anywhere, Ignition offers Beginners contests, which pay out a larger number of participants than is standard. There are also Triple Ups that reward one-third of the field with a prize equal to three times the buyin. Many multi-table events populate the Ignition Poker schedule, and they distribute a total of $1.5 million in guarantees per week. The largest one is the $150 + $12 $100,000 Guaranteed, which takes place on Sunday. Every few months, there's a series, like the Super Millions Poker Open, that awards multiple millions of dollars to the winners.

Ignition is a member of the PaiWangLuo Network of sites, and it subscribes to this organization's “recreational player model.” The intent is to provide a welcoming environment for newcomers to the game, and a major component of this philosophy is anonymized tables. No player is identified by anything other than a randomly created player number that changes with every game and table. This means there's no possibility of professional poker players tracking individual users and targeting them. The effect of this decision on game quality cannot be overstated; Ignition has some of the softest games around.

Download installers for Ignition Poker exist for Mac and Windows PC. Furthermore, there's a web interface that works with virtually every system that has a modern web browser, including phones and tablets. This mobile poker room doesn't have tournaments or SNGs, though, only cash games. Whether you play from your desktop or mobile, you can check out the casino when it's time for a break from poker. There are hundreds of casino titles, and you'll get a 100% up to $1,000 bonus to use on them.

Professional Rakeback Ignition CTA Banner

Click on the above link to join Ignition Poker now. You can also read our thorough review of the Ignition Casino Poker setup.

 

        Chico Network

Image of Chico Network's Advantages

Sportsbetting.ag is part of the Chico Poker Network, which holds the #3 spot for U.S. internet poker traffic. New players are entitled to a 100% up to $2,500 poker bonus, which compensates them with a value equal to 33% rakeback.

Sportsbetting Play Now CTA Banner

Cash game poker at Sportsbetting.ag takes the form of NLHE, PLO, and PLO/8. You'll see action from $0.01/$0.02 through $5/$10 in Hold'em and Omaha Hi, but the range of stakes for Omaha/8 is slightly narrower. The Chico Network has a Bad Beat Jackpot that has hit for $650K before. This jackpot is active at clearly marked NL Hold'em tables of $0.50/$1.00 and higher. If you lose at showdown with JJJJ or better, you could walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The distribution of sit n' goes at the Chico Network is pretty wide with $0.05 games comprising the low end and $500 + $25 occupying the position of most expensive buyin. This section of the poker lobby is surprisingly busy with new SNGs filling pretty regularly. The multi-table tab isn't quite as bustling, and most of the tourneys have buyins of $33 and below. There is a larger event you can play on Sundays called the Main Event. It costs $90 + $9 to enter and boasts a prize pool of $50,000+. On the last Sunday of every month, it grows to a $100 + $9 buyin and a $100,000 guarantee.

Chico has deployed a mobile poker app for iOS and Android that coexists with its desktop software for PCs and Macs. We believe this mobile app to be one of the best on the market today in terms of sophistication and functionality. There are also mobile interfaces for casino games, sports betting, racetrack wagering, and other gambling pursuits.

Sportsbetting.ag rewards its loyal players through a comp points program that lets you buy into select tourneys using these points rather than your real money. The rate of cashback provided through comp points is about 5%. You can try to boost your bankroll further by competing in one of the three leaderboards running every week. They pay out a total of $20,000 to the top cash gamers, SNGers, and tournament grinders.

Banner of Sportsbetting.ag's Highlights

To register your new SB.ag account, follow the banner above. We've gathered a lot more data on this room in our fact-packed Sportsbetting.ag poker review. Or you can learn about SB.ag's sister site, BetOnline.

 

    Horizon Network

Icons of Horizon Network's good features

The poker traffic at Intertops doesn't really hold a candle to the above rooms, but there are plenty of other reasons to make it your online poker home as long as you don't expect to be able to heavily multiple for high stakes. For starters, you'll get a 200% up to $1,000 bonus with your initial deposit at this room on the Horizon Poker Network.

Play Now Intertops Poker CTA

The welcome bonus pays out in $5 segments, and it's worth a variable amount, up to 27% rakeback, depending on the particular types of poker you play. Perhaps even more beneficial over the long term is the 36% dealt rakeback that everyone who signs up through Professional Rakeback receives as a matter of course. Other perks you'll get when you open your account are 100 complimentary lines to play casino games, a value of $90 or more, and a free ticket to a $1,000 depositors freeroll.

The games you'll encounter in the lobby are mostly for $50NL and below although there are higher blind levels listed. Most of the ring games are NLHE, but occasionally, you'll see PLO running. Turning to the SNG tab, it's pretty sparse with the only games active usually priced at $5 and lower. The MTTs are better because there are many of them held every day, and a fair fraction of them have guarantees attached. The major event here is the daily Sundowner: a $50 + $5 competition that has a $1,500 guarantee ($2,500 on Sundays). Once every few months, Intertops holds step tournaments to major offline poker events. They're a sensible way to try to win a luxurious poker getaway for just a few dollars.

Plenty of opportunities to pick up some free cash exist here. There's a rakerace each week that distributes $4,000 to the top 100 users, and placing on the leaderboard isn't too difficult an achievement. The loyalty system at Intertops rewards you whenever you reach certain points thresholds, and you'll earn gold chips as you play that can be traded in for no deposit bonuses. Keep up with the Intertops email newsletter because it contains valuable reload bonus codes and other time-sensitive promos.

Intertops Highlights CTA Banner

You can open up an Intertops account by clicking through our above banner link. Consider reading our accurate Intertops review page first if you'd like to know more.

 

     Winning Network

Image of ACR's desirable features

The Winning Poker Network has grown considerably from a few years ago, and it's now in second place for U.S.A. player liquidity volume. Our recommended WPN site is Americas Cardroom because it not only offers a 100% up to $1,000 bonus (20% rakeback rate), but it also gives new players $50 for free to sample the Jackpot Poker sit-and-goes.

Americas Cardroom Play Now Banner

The Jackpot Poker games are three-player matches in which the prize pool is determined by a random multiplier, which can climb as high as 2,500 times the buyin. Another unique SNG variant at ACR is called SNG 2.0. It features a pregame round where entrants reveal playing cards, and the prize pool increases if certain sequences come up. More typical sit-n-goes span the gamut from those costing a few dollars to those with buyins of $1,000 and above.

Cash games poker at ACR is offered in a diverse array of games: No Limit Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, Pot Limit Omaha-8, Limit Omaha-8, Limit Hold'em, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud-8. The big-bet games can be played as high as $25/$50 while the fixed-limit formats exist up to $30/$60 and even higher in some cases. Unlike at some rooms that list stratospheric blind levels, these vertiginous games actually run from time to time at Americas Cardroom. The tournament lineup is pretty strong at the WPN. The Sunday Major is called the Sunday Special, and it hands out at least $150,000 in prizes every week. This is enough to earn it the title of most lucrative Sunday Major open to customers from the United States. Every couple of months, there's a Million Dollar Sunday, which, for a buyin of $500 + $40, gives you the chance to win your share of $1,000,000+. A few times per year, ACR holds tournament series, like the Online Super Series, that contain dozens of events and millions in prizes.

Americas Cardroom has a couple of leaderboards to entice its users to keep playing throughout the week. The Beast is for ring game fans, and Sit & Crush rewards SNG players. Both of these leaderboards pay out five figures each week, split up between cold, hard cash and satellite tourney entries. On top of these free perks, ACR has also developed an Elite Benefits program that delivers ongoing compensation as you accrue more and more Combat Points.

WPN Highlights Banner CTA

For a 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus, sign up at ACR by following our link above. You may wish to also peruse our informative review of Americas Cardroom.

As a site on a poker network, Americas Cardroom doesn't have to attempt to do everything by itself. In conjunction with its partner organizations, it can put together a poker venue that's superior to what each firm could come up with if it had to act by itself. Some of the other notable sites on the Winning Poker Network are: BlackChip Poker (read review), True Poker (read review), and PokerHost (read review). It's possible to acquire rakeback at any of these rooms. If you're interested in rakeback, then head over to our page detailing the RB deals that are available on the WPN.

 

        Grand Network

GPN's Positive Features Image

You may not have heard of the Grand Poker Network before, and this is because it’s the newest entity to throw its hat in the U.S. internet poker ring. Yet, it has the backing of the 5Dimes Group, which has more than two decades of experience in real money online gaming. What happened was that 5Dimes got tired of trusting in outside organizations to provide it with poker capabilities, and so it opted to craft its own poker solution and open its doors in 2014. This poker room works with PCs and Macs through dedicated desktop software and iOS and Android through downloadable apps. There's also a Flash version that's compatible with pretty much every popular piece of computing hardware.

Tables from $0.05/$0.10 to $1/$2 are waiting for you to take a seat. The total traffic numbers here are pretty small, so you won't be able to sit at more than two or three games at a time. The opponents you do square off against, however, will likely be a lot weaker than you're used to. These games attract quite a few bettors from 5D's sports and casino divisions, and many of them don't really know much about poker strategy. This is good news for you because you presumably are more talented at card games than they are.

Tourneys are all microstakes affairs at 5Dimes, and the priciest listing on the schedule is just $5 + $0.50. Despite the restrictions on the size of the prize pools created by these low buyins, this can be a very profitable place to play. Every day, there are a few events that have no house fees, and on Sundays, there's a $500 freeroll that usually only draws a couple hundred entries. Furthermore, 5Dimes gives everyone who follows our links 50% rakeback. Such an enviable percentage of free cash back represents a solid way to build up your balance whether you play tournaments or cash games.

5Dimes Highlights CTA Banner Link

Follow the banner above to get started at 5Dimes Poker. For further details on this network, browse over to our overview of the Grand Poker Network.


 

How to Choose the Right Iowa Poker Site

The various poker rooms for players from Iowa each have their own individual characteristics and advantages. Therefore, we can't advise you to select any one of them over another. The choice of poker company to do business with will depend on your own needs and preferences. Although it's not our place to tell you where to play, we do have a number of considerations you'll want to bear in mind as you ponder the path you intend to take.

✶ If you're on the lookout for the best possible bonus, then you'll want to put Ignition and its $1,000 fast-clearing bonus on your shortlist.


✶ If the size of a room is your primary concern, then you'll be happy with the large player traffic at Ignition and Winning Network.


✶ If you wish to partake in different kinds of real money wagering, then Chico, Horizon, and Grand offer sports, casino, and poker.


✶ If you're planning to play from a Mac or mobile device, then the software from Chico, Ignition, and Grand will let you.


✶ If you prioritize rakeback when evaluating poker sites, then don't forget about Horizon's 36% and Grand's 50% RB specials.


✶ If you want to try out something off the beaten path, then Ignition, WPN, and Chico have lottery sit-n-go and fast-fold tables to check out.


✶ If you appreciate big tourney prize pools, then Ignition and WPN have the massive events you seek.

 

Payment Processing

Black Money Bag

It's no problem to cash out your poker winnings because all of the Iowa online poker sites will send a check to your doorstep. Some of them have other payment processors available too, like money transfers and debit cards. All of them also support the digital currency Bitcoin. When you make your money transfers using this crypto coin, you can avoid certain fees and delays that are inherent in traditional cashouts. If you don't really know how to begin using Bitcoin, then we've prepared a handy guide to crypto-currency that you may wish to take a look at.

 

Iowa's Online Poker Laws

Legal Reference Book

This may seem a bit unusual, but Iowa has a very tough stance on unlawful gambling notwithstanding its myriad legalized forms of brick-and-mortar wagering. When we take a step back for a moment, this makes a lot of sense. The state derives considerable revenue from its casinos, lottery, and other real money gaming options, so it wishes to dissuade anyone partaking in gambling from which the state coffers aren't enriched. The main parts of the law that could relate to online poker are contained in the Iowa Code, Title XVI - Criminal Law and Procedure, Chapter 725 - Vice. Most relevant is §725.7 - Gaming and betting — penalty:

1. Except as permitted in chapters 99B and 99D, a person shall not do any of the following:
a. Participate in a game for any sum of money or other property of any value.
b. Make any bet.
c. For a fee, directly or indirectly, give or accept anything of value to be wagered or to be transmitted or delivered for a wager to be placed within or without the state of Iowa.
d. For a fee, deliver anything of value which has been received outside the enclosure of a racetrack licensed under chapter 99D to be placed as wagers in the pari-mutuel pool or other authorized systems of wagering.
e. Engage in bookmaking

The part we're concerned about is a. It's very broadly worded and could easily apply to online poker. Just in case it doesn't, b. seems to be another avenue for possibly targeting internet poker. The consequences for breaking this law depend upon how much money is involved, and they get higher for repeat offenders. A first offense involving $100 or less is categorized as a serious misdemeanor. This type of crime carries a fine of between $315 and $1,875 as well as incarceration for up to a year. If the sum of cash at stake is $5,000 or more, then a violation is deemed a Class C felony even for a first offense. Class C felonies can subject the guilty party to a fine from $1,000 up to $10,000 and a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

There have been occasional raids wherein ordinary players have been charged under §725.7, but the important thing to note is that all of these enforcement actions affected those participating in unlicensed live poker games, not online card tables. We haven't been able to dig up any evidence of this law ever being used to go after online poker players. You should be perfectly safe, from a legal standpoint, as long as you play poker over the internet privately from your own home.

Social gaming is allowed under very specific rules and stipulations contained in Chapter 99, including:

  • A genuine social relationship must exist between the players
  • The game must be fairly run
  • Nobody can claim any portion of a pot or money wagered except as a player
  • No cover charges are allowed, and no rebates or discounts can be offered to individuals for playing
  • Nobody can win or lose more than $200 in any 24-hour period
  • Any law enforcement personnel is granted immediate access to the premises upon request

Licensed liquor establishments can also host social games provided that they obtain a social gambling license and pay a $150 fee, but they cannot act as cashier or banker for the games. They can also organize and conduct sports pools.

Possession of a gambling device, keeping gambling houses, pool selling (except by authorized businesses), and selling illegal lottery tickets are all contrary to the laws of Iowa. Amazingly, most of these crimes are treated as serious misdemeanors – the same as any ordinary player who puts less than $100 at risk! Needless to say, foreign gambling companies aren't dissuaded from serving the state by these trivial penalties. All of the poker sites that serve Americans are willing to accept Iowan action. Their legal teams have no doubt concluded that there's virtually no chance of their employers being convicted under any of these statutes.

Chapter 99 lists types of gaming that are excluded from being covered by Chapter 725. Among them are charitable games, social gaming, commercial casinos, tribal casinos, pari-mutuel betting, and the state lottery.

 

 

History of Gambling in Iowa

Antique Compass
George Channing Haddock
George Channing Haddock
Anti-Gambling Crusader in Sioux City

Most of the economic activity in Iowa was concentrated on agriculture from the start of its organization as a territory of the United States in 1838. Therefore, there weren't a ton of wild-living miners, cowboys, lumbermen, or other individualistic risk takers like there were in areas further west. Still, there were exceptions to this general trend. Sioux City was founded in 1854 on the Missouri River, and it soon grew to become a major port for riverboats. Gambling and prostitution were rife, and the town gained a reputation for lawlessness. Into the picture stepped preacher and temperance advocate George Channing Haddock in 1885. His fiery sermons attracted quite a bit of attention from onlookers, not least of whom were the owners of saloons and gambling establishments. They formed a conspiracy and had him killed in 1886. Their plan backfired because Haddock became a martyr, and the illicit drinking and gaming houses were driven out of town.

Carter Lake, Iowa
Map of Carter Lake, IA

Carter Lake, on the Nebraska/Iowa border, became a gambling hotspot too but for quite different reasons. In 1877, the Missouri River flooded, and its entire course changed, leaving Carter Lake on the “wrong” side of the river. For a while, there was some uncertainty as to whether it yet remained in Iowa or was now part of Nebraska. Even after an 1892 Supreme Court decision clarified that it was still part of Iowa, the state didn't have any intention of providing services across the river to the isolated community. Nebraska's leaders weren't going to go to any special trouble over a community that wasn't even part of their state either. As a result, it became a kind of no man's land where the provision of police and other services was mostly absent.

Gambling thrived in Carter Lake starting from the final years of the 19th century, but it really took off during Prohibition and remained even after it was repealed. The most famous of these venues was the Chez Paree, which operated during the 1940s. It featured entertainment from top stars, including Bennie Goodman and Sophie Tucker. However, it was busted by the authorities in 1949 and shut down.

The first form of state-supervised gambling in the Hawkeye State came in 1973 with bingo and raffles for nonprofit groups.

983 saw the introduction of pari-mutuel racetrack betting. A couple of years later, a state lottery was approved. The legislative ball kept rolling, and in 1989, Iowa became the first state to permit modern riverboat casinos. While they initially had to be on the river for gambling to occur, and cruises were limited to two hours, these rules were waived in later years.

In 1992, the state signed compacts with its native tribes, and tribal gaming casinos soon appeared. In 1994, racetracks were allowed to add slot machines, and casino table games and poker followed in later years.

2019 saw the legalization of both online and brick-and-mortar sports betting with the passage of SF 617. Daily Fantasy Sports became explicitly permitted too in the same bill.

Regulation Chances

Manilla File Folder

Iowa actually stands a decent chance of getting online poker regulated within the state. It might not be quite as quick as West Virginia, but something happening within five years is completely possible.

The reason for this kind of optimism comes from the fact that some talks have already happened in the past about this. In 2012, a bill to regulate online poker, Senate File 2275, passed in the Senate, but it died in the house. A similar piece of legislation was introduced the next year, but it achieved even less success than its predecessor. The regulation of sports betting, both online and offline, in 2019 is also a reason for hope with regards to poker.

Of course, even if online poker became regulated in Iowa, there is no guarantee that it would be an unqualified success. The state is rather small in population, and this could cause a problem with trying to get sites off the ground. One thing working in favor of the state though is that there is already a good gambling infrastructure available, so it won't be necessary to completely change the nature of the state.

 

Land Based Gambling

Horseshoe Council Bluffs Logo

Iowa falls on the very liberal side in terms of land-based gambling options. It offers the state lottery, tribal casinos, commercial casinos, pari-mutual betting, and charitable gambling options. Wagering on sports was added in 2019.

There are around two dozen casinos in total. Though the commercial casinos are technically riverboats, this is mostly a legal fiction. Because these boats are now allowed to be permanently docked, they're basically identical to any casino housed within a landside building in any other state. Poker has thus flourished in the region with the largest card room being at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs. It has 18 tables that spread low-limit No Limit Texas Hold'em, Limit Texas Hold'em, and Limit Omaha/8. Every day of the week except Friday, there's at least one tournament.

If poker were to get regulated in the state of Iowa there are already natural establishments to take the lead on offering games to citizens. As mentioned, the Horseshoe has a presence in the state, and it's owned by Caesars Entertainment, which also owns the WSOP.com brand. While other smaller casinos in the state have significant followings, it is not really clear if they would be able to support their own sites as well unless they partnered with one of the other major regulated poker brands.

 

Parting Thoughts

Online poker in Iowa is a great pastime if you don't feel like getting dressed and heading to the casino. There are no legal penalties against the game that are actually enforced in practice, so this is a safe form of amusement to participate in. Find a great Iowa online poker room from our list above, and start playing now.

 

 

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

Iowa and Bordering States

If you are fortunate enough to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family home, or some other property, you may have other online poker options available to you. Here are a list of the states that border Iowa and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Illinois, KansasMinnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. For a broader perspective on internet poker throughout the country as a whole, you can read our page devoted to U.S.A online poker.

Online poker in Iowa is a topic about which there is a lot of ignorance. IF you know anybody - friend, family member, acquaintence, coworker, etc. - whom you think might want to learn about poker over the internet, then please consider sharing this article with them.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we've compiled a list of questions and answers about Iowa online poker. Read them to educate yourself further on this topic.

Is Global Poker a poker site that's legal in Iowa?

According to Global's attorneys, the company's presence is completely legal in Iowa. However, we have a different perspective. We can't really get into this subject in sufficient detail here, but you can read our Global review for further information.

 

 


We strive to maintain this information and update it frequently with our research. However, we are not immune to making mistakes or omitting information that you, dear reader, may find of use. If you have any further questions not addressed in this guide or have noted any discrepancies or inaccuracies we urge you to contact us with your questions and concerns so that we may swiftly address them!