The Ultimate Guide to Iowa’s Casino Scene: Gaming Options, Laws and Regulations, and Economic Impact


If you’ve ever been to Iowa, you know that this state is famous for its cornfields and wide-open spaces. However, you may be surprised to learn that Iowa is also home to a thriving casino industry. In fact, the state has some of the best casinos in the Midwest, offering a wide variety of games and entertainment options to suit any taste.

Whether you are a resident of Iowa or a visitor looking for some fun and excitement, this article is for you. We will take a closer look at Iowa’s casino scene, its gaming options, laws and regulations, as well as the economic impact casinos have on the state.

The Ultimate Guide to Iowa’s Casino Scene

Iowa offers players a wide variety of casinos to choose from, ranging from small, intimate settings to large commercial establishments. Here is a brief overview of the main types of casinos operating in Iowa:

  • Commercial casinos: These are the largest casinos in Iowa and offer a wide variety of gaming options, amenities and services. Some of the most popular commercial establishments in Iowa include the Ameristar Casino and Hotel, the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, and Harrah’s Council Bluffs Casino and Hotel.
  • Racinos: These casinos are located on racetracks and offer a mix of slot machines, table games, and horse racing events. Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, located in Altoona, is one of the most popular racinos in Iowa.
  • Tribal casinos: These casinos are owned and operated by Native American tribes and offer a range of gaming options and amenities. Iowa’s only tribal casino is the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel located in Tama.

When it comes to gaming options, players will find a variety of popular games at Iowa’s casinos. Table games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat are available at most casinos, as well as a wide range of slot machines and video poker games.

For those looking for a more upscale experience, Iowa’s top casinos offer elegant accommodations, fine dining, and luxurious spas. The Ameristar Casino and Hotel in Council Bluffs, for example, features a 160-room hotel with panoramic views of the Missouri River, multiple dining options, and a top-notch spa.

From Betting to Blackjack: A Closer Look at Iowa’s Casinos

For a more detailed description of the gaming options available in Iowa, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular games and unique features found in the state’s casinos:


Slot machines are the most popular games in any casino, and Iowa is no exception. From penny machines to high-limit games, players will find a variety of slot machines to choose from. Iowa’s casinos offer classic reel slots, video slots, and progressive jackpot slots that offer massive payouts to lucky players.

Table Games

Iowa’s casinos offer a wide range of table games, including blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat. Blackjack is the most popular table game in Iowa, and players will find multiple variations of the game available at most casinos.


Poker is also a popular game in Iowa, with many casinos offering Texas hold’em, Omaha hold’em, and seven-card stud. Many casinos also host weekly poker tournaments for players looking for a chance to win big.

Unique Features

Many of Iowa’s casinos feature unique attractions and amenities that set them apart from other establishments. At the Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, for example, players can enjoy virtual casino games on their touchscreens while waiting for a table, and at the Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington, players can relax in the luxurious spa and enjoy a variety of treatments between gaming sessions.

Is Gambling Legal in Iowa? Everything You Need to Know About the State’s Casino Industry

While Iowa’s casino industry is thriving, it’s important to understand the state’s gambling laws and regulations. Gambling is legal in Iowa, but only at state-licensed casinos and racetracks. Tribal casinos are also legal in Iowa, but they operate under a different set of laws and regulations.

In order to operate a casino in Iowa, an establishment must obtain a license from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. This commission oversees the state’s casino industry and ensures that all establishments are operating fairly and in compliance with state laws and regulations.

Iowa’s Best Kept Secret: The Thriving Casino Business in the Hawkeye State

While many of Iowa’s larger casinos are well-known to residents and visitors alike, there are some hidden gems worth exploring. These lesser-known establishments offer unique gaming experiences and amenities that you won’t find at larger casinos.

The Wild Rose Casino and Resort in Clinton, for example, is a smaller establishment that offers a wide variety of gaming options, including table games, a poker room, and a sportsbook. The casino also features a bowling alley, event center, and multiple dining options.

Another hidden gem is the Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport. This casino features a state-of-the-art sportsbook, multiple dining options, and a concert venue that hosts top musicians and comedians.

Planning a Casino Tour in Iowa: Where to Go and What to Expect

If you are planning a casino tour in Iowa, here are some suggestions for an itinerary of the state’s top casinos:

  • Start your tour at the Ameristar Casino and Hotel in Council Bluffs, one of Iowa’s largest and most luxurious commercial casinos.
  • Visit the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel in Tama, the state’s only tribal casino, for a unique gaming experience.
  • Experience the excitement of live horse racing at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona.
  • Explore the unique attractions at the Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, such as its virtual casino games and bowling alley.
  • End your tour at the Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport, where you can enjoy a concert or show after a day of gaming.

For first-time visitors and group tours, it’s important to remember to plan ahead and set a budget for your trip. Iowa’s casinos offer a variety of amenities and services, but it’s important to keep your spending in check and gamble responsibly.

The Economic Impact of Iowa’s Casinos: A Comprehensive Analysis

Finally, let’s take a closer look at the role casinos play in Iowa’s economy. The state’s casinos generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, creating jobs and generating tax revenue for the state.

According to a study by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, the state’s casinos generated $1.5 billion in gross revenue in 2018, with $316 million in taxes going to the state and local governments. The industry also supports over 14,000 jobs in the state.

However, it’s important to note that while casinos do bring economic benefits to Iowa, they also have some negative effects, such as increased crime rates and problem gambling. It’s up to the state and casino operators to work together to ensure that the industry operates in a responsible and sustainable way.


Iowa’s casino scene offers players a wide variety of gaming options, from slots and table games to poker and horse racing. The state’s casinos also offer luxurious amenities and unique attractions, making them great destinations for a weekend getaway or a day trip. While casinos do bring economic benefits to Iowa, it’s important to keep in mind the potential negative effects and work towards a responsible and sustainable casino industry.

So whether you’re a seasoned gambler or a first-time visitor, Iowa’s casinos are worth exploring.

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