Iowa Sports Betting Day 1 Winner Is William Hill In A Rout
ALTOONA, Iowa -- If anything could be gleaned from Thursday’s occasionally awkward yet orderly opening day of sports gambling in Iowa, it’s that William Hill US is out of the gate first.
Of the state’s first six casinos to take wagers on the first day allowed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, four were contracted with William Hill US, the Las Vegas-based bookmaker with operations in six states and the Bahamas.
At Iowa’s largest casino, Prairie Meadows near Des Moines, the William Hill sportsbook accepted wagers beginning at noon CDT and saw a steady stream of players through the afternoon and evening.
William Hill App in Demand
Of particular interest at Prairie Meadows was William Hill’s mobile app, the only one available on Day 1 in Iowa. A line to sign up for the app developed shortly after noon and continued into the evening. Five hours after the first bet was placed, patrons stood in a line 50 deep to fill out a carbon copy form and show identification. Players were told account information would be emailed to them within a day or two, at which time they could open the account and return to the casino to make a deposit.
Once the accounts are loaded, patrons will be able to make wagers from their mobile device anywhere in the state.
Similar scenes were reported at William Hill’s other three Iowa locations that went live Thursday – Eldorado Resorts properties in Waterloo and Bettendorf, and an Affinity Gaming property in Osceola. William Hill also is involved in the opening of sports gambling in Indiana, set to go live Sept. 1.
As the ceremony at Prairie Meadows tapered off Thursday and gamblers placed wagers at the four-window book, William Hill US CEO Joe Asher watched the sight unfold.
“I happen to work in an industry I really enjoy with people I really enjoy,” Asher said. “There’s a lot of hard work, a lot of nitty-gritty stuff like poring over construction drawings and all that other stuff. There’s a tremendous amount of work done by a lot of people that leads to this point.”
The Scene Around Iowa
Two hours away in Council Bluffs, the Omaha market was introduced to legal sports gambling Thursday through an Ameristar casino, where former Iowa and NFL player Tim Dwight placed the first bet – $100 on the Chicago Bears to win Super Bowl LIV at 20-1.
Two nearby Caesars casinos in Council Bluffs – Harrah’s and Horseshoe -- are scheduled to go live Aug. 23. With a population of nearly a million – and the state of Nebraska not moving on sports gambling – Omaha is the largest market affected by legal sports betting in Iowa.
COMING UP: We’ve applied for a William Hill mobile app account in Iowa. Once it’s up and running, we’ll take you through the experience.