Online Poker in Iowa – Is It Legal?

In the Hawkeye State, there is plenty of legal sports betting since 2019, but there is still a lack of online casino gambling. No gaming law has been passed yet to legalize casino-style games such as table games, slots, or poker. The only legal poker in the state can be found in a card room from one of the many casino operators in Iowa.  

But if you want to play an online poker game to win real money online in Iowa, we have some very good news for you. By joining Iowa online betting sites located offshore, you can play against other online poker players today in real-money poker games and tournaments.

In this guide, we look at the best sites to join, what makes them our top choices, and where Iowans can play poker in person in the state. 

Our Highest-Rated Online Poker Sites for Iowa Gamblers

Not many sites offer a full-fledged poker room with tournaments and cash games. But most of the top offshore casinos have at least some variants of video poker available along with other casino games. We made our top 4 list with poker rooms getting top preference, but all of these sites will accept Iowa users today to win money online. 

  1. Bovada – Best poker tournament options 
  2. BetOnline – Suggest your own poker tournament idea
  3. Everygame – Great poker software
  4. SportsBetting.ag – Runs on BetOnline’s poker network

Can you legally play poker online in Iowa?

No, online gambling laws in Iowa are only valid for these forms of gambling: Sports betting through online sportsbooks, daily fantasy sports, and horse race betting. Online casino gaming, including online poker, has not yet been legalized by any gaming law. You have to visit a card room to legally play poker in the state. The legal gambling age in Iowa is 21 years old. 

This is why Iowans are turning to offshore casino sites, which have online poker and other casino-style games. These sites are not licensed or regulated by the Iowa Gaming Association since they are located in another country, but they are not explicitly illegal to use in Iowa either. This is why you can feel free to join these offshore sites today.

Comparing the Top Iowa Poker Sites

We have included our detailed reviews of the top four sites, which all feature a poker room accessible with software or using your computer. These top-rated offshore sites are all located overseas in places such as Costa Rica, Panama or Antigua where online betting to win real money is legal. These sites all have other table games, casino gaming, online sports betting, and they are the only ones on the list with online poker tournaments available on their poker network. 

1. Bovada: Best Poker Tournament Options 

Bovada Poker

Bovada is a popular online poker site thanks to being part of the PaiWangLuo Poker Network, the No. 1 traffic ranking site for American poker players. 

There are always plenty of tournaments and cash games at Bovada after you download their free poker software. Their biggest tournament is every Sunday with the $150K Guaranteed. They also have a Jackpot Sit & Go tournament where $120,000 is the top prize. You can play all the popular poker games at Bovada, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha. 

One of the best features of the Bovada poker room is the choice to play anonymously at tables. By going incognito mode, you can keep your identity secret and not tip your strategies to other players. This can be a great advantage that you will not find at other online poker sites in our list.

Video poker is also available at Bovada in the casino section along with slots, table games, Keno, and others. You also get one of the best sportsbooks in the business with a top-tier prop builder. 

New users expecting a poker welcome bonus can get as much as $500. The bonus is a 100% match of your initial deposit. In addition to the welcome bonus, there are numerous other promo codes at Bovada that can provide additional value.

Pros:

  • America’s No. 1 poker network
  • Solid sign-up bonus for poker players
  • Excellent promos for crypto users 
  • Play real money games anonymously
  • Great sportsbook

Cons:

  • Do not expect many ongoing promos
  • Video poker could use more games 

2. BetOnline: Suggest Your Own Poker Tournament Idea

BetOnline Poker

If anyone on our list can rival Bovada for poker, it is BetOnline. Along with SportsBetting and Tiger Gaming, BetOnline belongs to the Chico Poker Network, which ranks No. 3 in traffic for American poker players. 

BetOnline features plenty of poker tournaments, and they also take suggestions for more, so you could pitch them your idea. They have games for all experience levels, including games with very low minimums for players just starting out with online poker. 

Video poker is also available with many popular games like Aces & Faces and Jacks or Better. The casino section is loaded with hundreds of games, many of which are exclusive to BetOnline. 

You can also get bad beat jackpots where all the players at a table win when certain conditions are met. BetOnline promo codes offer a 100% match up to $1,000 when placing your initial deposit. Unlike the sportsbook bonus, these poker bonuses are released in $5 amounts for every $50 earned in rake. 

Pros:

  • Great welcome bonuses 
  • Play in Windfall Sit & Go and Sunday Majors tournaments 
  • Many exclusive casino games
  • Video poker fans will be happy with selection 
  • Suggest your own poker tournament idea 
  • Fast payouts and high limits 

Cons:

  • Only No. 3 in traffic of players
  • No incognito mode like at Bovada
  • Other online casino sites offer demos

3. Everygame: Great Poker Software

Everygame Poker

The best online poker site from Antigua is Everygame. It has a great site design that can really be experienced when playing their poker software or in the casino where they have many games, including an impressive video poker library.

Everygame does not have the traffic that BetOnline and Bovada get, so you will not see the huge cash prizes you would at those sites. But that is not always necessarily a bad thing as the players at the lesser-known site may not be as challenging to beat. But you can play tournaments and cash games for good prizes on the Everygame poker platform. They have Omaha and Texas Hold’em just like everyone else.

Everygame also promotes the best rakeback rate at 36%. This is the amount you can get back by playing more poker at the site. Everygame also does a better job with the bonus money, allowing 90 days to spend it on the site. For even more value, the promo codes at Everygame can provide a range of different benefits and perks.

Pros:

  • Promotes the highest rakeback rate (36%) 
  • Many diverse deposit methods
  • Casino games have demos
  • Great software and user interface
  • Deep video poker selection
  • Bonus money lasts for 90 days

Cons:

  • Bigger tournament prizes at rivals
  • More for the casual sports bettor

4. SportsBetting.ag: Runs on BetOnline’s Poker Network

Sportsbetting.ag Poker

SportsBetting is BetOnline’s sister site, so of course it runs on the same Chico Poker Network we mentioned before in BetOnline’s review. That is the No. 3 network for traffic from American players.

But like with BetOnline, you will get downloadable software to play a lot of the same poker tournaments and cash games on a site with fast payouts and high limits. The same can go for the other aspects of the site, including the loaded casino section and the sportsbook with plenty of unique promos. 

We just think BetOnline has the better reputation in the industry, and we prefer the site design there better than SportsBetting. But it is definitely one of the four options out there for playing online poker tournaments to go along with the other online casino gaming you get.

Pros:

  • Same poker network as BetOnline 
  • Good mixture of cash games and tournaments 
  • Enjoy bad beat jackpots 
  • Solid sportsbook with fast payouts

Cons:

  • Less traffic than Bovada 
  • Lacks anonymous tables

Details About Our Rating Methodology

We will get into our rating methodology in more detail below. But for a quality online poker experience, we expect these offshore sites to offer a wide variety of poker games, other casino-style games, banking methods, quality software, generous bonuses, and helpful customer service. The best online casino sites will excel in these key areas. 

Iowa’s History of Gambling Laws

For a Midwest state, Iowa has been more lenient than most towards gambling, but that was not always the case. It was not until the 1980s when the region was going through a farming crisis that gambling looked to be the way to improve a struggling economy. 

In 1983, Iowa legalized pari-mutuel betting on horse and dog races with the newly established Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to be in charge of those operations. Two years later in 1985, a state lottery was passed and live with scratch tickets and people able to play their numbers.

Iowa made history in 1989 when it became the first state to legalize riverboat casino gaming with legislation. Two years later in 1991, the first riverboat casinos in the country opened in the counties of Dubuque and Scott in Iowa. The many riverboat casinos in the state would eventually convert into land-based locations with table games and slot machines to make them full-service casinos. There are over 20 casinos now, including those on tribal land and a few still on the river, in Iowa.

In good news for the future of online gambling options in the state, sports betting was passed in 2019 after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a gaming law to legalize it for both retail and online betting. There are over 18 online operators offering sports betting now, and the Blackbird Bend Casino just recently became the first tribal casino to have retail sports betting in person.

As of 2023, no law has been passed to legalize online poker or casino gaming in Iowa, but with the success of the sports betting, lottery, and horse racing, it could only be a matter of time before this happens. 

Timeline of Gambling in Iowa State

The following timeline shows the key gambling events in Iowa’s history, which could one day lead to online poker legislation: 

  • 2021: Iowa’s governor signs a bill into law allowing for online sports betting registration, but does not include provisions for online poker.
  • 2014: Iowa lawmakers approve legislation to allow social gaming, including online poker, with certain restrictions.
  • 2013: A bill to legalize online poker is introduced in the Iowa legislature, but it does not make it out of committee.
  • 2012: The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approves rules for online gambling, including online poker, but the legislature does not pass a bill to legalize online betting.
  • 2007: Iowa’s state legislature passes a bill allowing for the creation of a state-sponsored poker tournament, the Iowa Championship Poker Tournament.
  • 2005: The Iowa legislature approves a bill allowing for the creation of non-profit organizations to host poker tournaments.
  • 1991: Iowa’s first riverboat casino, The Dubuque Casino Belle, opens its doors, featuring table games like poker.

Features a Top Poker Site Should Have

In the following sections, we look at the features you would expect from a top online poker site. The best will have an online poker network for tournament and cash game play, but there are other features that we always deem important with any online gambling site, such as banking methods, security, user promos, and a good mobile site experience. 

Competitive Gambling Odds

In the sportsbook, we want the best odds, which is why many users will create an account with multiple sites to shop around for the best prices. In the casino, we also look for fair deals like reasonable limits for entry into poker tournaments, low limits for new players, high limits for high rollers, and fair payouts. 

Wide Variety of Betting Markets Available

Variety is always appreciated with these online casinos. If we are playing the sportsbook, we want professional sports, college sports, international leagues, and plenty of sports betting options (singles, parlays, props, live bets, teasers, round robin, etc.).

Things are no different in the casino where variety means slots, table games, poker, video poker, specialty games (Keno), live dealer games, etc. 

Multiple Banking Methods

Getting money into and out of your account in a timely fashion is very important. This is why we give sites the best grades for offering the widest variety of deposit methods and withdrawal methods, including traditional options (credit cards, debit cards) and modern forms (crypto and eWallets). 

Promos & Bonuses

Who does not like bonus funds? The biggest bonus offers are usually at sign-up for new users who make a big initial deposit, which can be matched 100% (or higher) in bonus bets. The poker bonus at several sites is similar as a 100% deposit match. Keep in mind these bonus funds have a rollover requirement and expiration date. You will have to play some poker to release the poker bonus on the site.

Beyond the bonuses for new users, we like the ongoing promotions even more like bonus bets, risk-free bets, free spins, reload bonuses, and any refer-a-friend reward or loyalty program where you accumulate points for perks. 

Live Dealers Available

Beyond the poker tables, we want to see live dealers available for your favorite online casino games, including blackjack, roulette, and more. This is with a live dealer via video chat where you cannot be seen but you can communicate via text if necessary. This is a nice alternative for people who may not trust the randomness of an electronic table game. 

Smooth User Experience

A smooth user experience matters since poker tournaments can take many hours to complete. Since you can enter more than one at the same time, it should be a breeze to switch between games without any lag or downtime. We expect the sound and graphics to be sharp and not jittery. 

Mobile Site Functionality

For the sites with poker, we expect the poker app to be easy to download and install on our mobile device. Once installed, it should be quick to get into new games we want to play. We also want a good cashier section to easily make deposits and request withdrawals for winnings. 

Customer Service Contact Options

If you need help with a deposit or have a question about a promotion, you will need a good customer service team to contact. We judge the best customer service sites by those that offer 24/7 availability with the most diverse methods of contact: messaging, emails, phone calls, and a live chat that is with an agent rather than artificial intelligence. 

Security & Safety Features

If you want to win money online, you will have to share personal and financial data with these sites, including your name, address, and phone number, and connect your eWallet or bank account to transfer funds. That makes it extra important that these sites can be trusted for their security features to keep your data safe from hackers. We only like to promote sites that have lots of experience in the industry for this reason. 

Varieties of Online Poker in Iowa

Playing online poker can certainly differ from going to a card room at a brick-and-mortar casino location. There are many varieties of online poker games that you will find at these offshore casinos:

  • Texas Hold’em
  • Omaha
  • Caribbean Stud Poker
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • 3 Card Poker
  • 7 Card Stud Poker
  • Video Poker
  • Poker Tournaments (Single-table, Multi-table, Sit & Go, Knockout, etc.)

Maybe playing poker at online sites is not your thing. Fortunately, Iowa is home to an excess of 20 land-based casinos and card rooms. There are also tribal casinos and riverboat casinos. Commercial casinos have also added retail sports betting in recent years, so you can get all your gambling needs there. In the following section, we are going to cover some of the highlights to playing poker in land-based casinos in Iowa.  

Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort

Located in Larchwood, there are eight poker tables for cash games and tournaments. There are weekly Texas Hold’em tournaments, and sometimes there are major events like a recent $200,000 guaranteed tournament. 

Horseshoe Council Bluffs

Located in Council Bluffs, the Horseshoe Casino has a poker room with 18 tables, including a wide variety of games for Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Mississippi Stud, Pai Gow Poker, and Criss Cross Poker. There are also over 50 table games and 1,300 slot machines. 

Diamond Jo Worth Casino

Located in Northwood, the Diamond Jo Casino has a variety of poker games, including Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Face Up Pai Gow Poker, and Cajun Stud Poker. You can also play table games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps. 

Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel

Located in Tama on tribal land, the Meskwaki Bingo Casino’s poker room is currently closed. But they also have daily bingo games, over 1,350 slots with great payouts, and 21 tables with nine different games such as blackjack, craps, roulette, Cajun Stud Poker, and Criss Cross Poker.

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Located in Altoona, the poker room features Bad Beat Jackpot, Texas Hold’em, and Omaha. There are also numerous table games and slots. You can also see live racing at the track, bet on horse racing with simulcast betting, and bet with the Caesars Sportsbook. 

Q Casino

Located in Dubuque, poker players can play Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, Face Up Pai Gow poker, and TriLux, a game that combines blackjack and Three Card Poker. They also have slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, and more. 

Riverside Casino & Golf Resort

Located in Riverside, the poker room has 10 tables with limit and no-limit games for Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Big O, and 7 Card Stud. They also have video poker, slots, and other table games available. 

How to Create an Online Poker Account

In four steps, we will show you how to get started playing online poker at the online casino sites reviewed earlier in this guide. This is a simple process no matter which site you choose to join. 

Step 1. Sign-Up With an Online Poker Site

Go to the site you wish to join and start the account creation process. One of your first tasks will be to give your account a password that is something difficult and unique to you for this site. Do not use it elsewhere. 

Step 2. Verify Your Poker Account Details

The site will need to verify your account in another quick process before it is actually created in the system. This means you will need to provide accurate data such as your name, address, email address, and phone number you can be reached at. 

Step 3. Deposit Funds Into Your Account

Now you are going to make your first deposit. Before doing so, read up on the welcome bonus to see what amount you need to fund to get the most bonus possible because that will likely be dependent on the size of your initial deposit. Once ready to do so, head to the deposit section, choose your preferred deposit method, and fund your account with money. 

Step 4. Enjoy Real Money Poker Games

Now that your account is active and funded with money, you are ready to play on the casino and poker. You usually have to download free poker software from the site first before you can start playing, but that is also easy to install on your PC or mobile device. 

FAQs – Playing Poker Online in Iowa

Is online poker legal in Iowa?

No, Iowa has not yet made online poker legal from local operators. However, Iowa residents can use an offshore poker platform like Everygame Poker or Bovada Poker with no problems. 

What gambling sites are legal in Iowa?

There are locally-regulated online gambling sites offering online sports betting and online betting on horse races in Iowa. Offshore sites are not under the jurisdiction of any United States gambling laws, so they are also available in Iowa.  

What gambling apps are legal in Iowa?

DraftKings Sportsbook and other apps for online sports betting are available in the app store but there are no options for poker. Offshore poker sites, however, can allow Iowa residents to play real money poker games on any device. 

Where do most Americans play online poker?

Bovada poker is the most popular choice for real-money poker games among American players. It is hosted on the PaiWangLuo poker network, which also is the network that has the most traffic from American players.

Does anyone make a living playing online poker?

Sure, poker is a form of gambling that can be pursued as a full-time profession. But you must be very skilled, experienced and a little lucky if you are going to consistently turn a profit doing so. Even high rollers will run into periods of bad variance.

  • Florida Betting Lawsuit Reaches Critical Point

    Florida Betting Lawsuit Reaches Critical Point

    West Flagler Associates’ challenge to Florida’s gaming agreement with the Seminole Tribe reaches the Supreme Court. With final arguments presented, SCOTUS must now decide if it will review the case, questioning the legality of the 2021 agreement permitting off-tribal land betting.


  • Massachusetts Will Not Increase Sports Betting Taxes

    Massachusetts Will Not Increase Sports Betting Taxes

    Massachusetts Will Not Increase Sports Betting Taxes: Despite recent efforts to increase the sports betting tax, Massachusetts says No.


  • Massachusetts Gaming Tax Revenue Generates Nearly $375 Million in 2023

    Massachusetts Gaming Tax Revenue Generates Nearly $375 Million in 2023

    Discover the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s 2023 Annual Report, unveiling $1.42 billion in gaming revenue and $374.8 million in state tax revenue. The report also underscores the state’s dedication to responsible gaming through innovative programs like PlayMyWay and Voluntary Self-Exclusion.


  • Sports Betting Ad Restrictions Bill Undergoing Adjustments

    Sports Betting Ad Restrictions Bill Undergoing Adjustments

    New York Congressman Paul Tonko is fine-tuning the language of the SAFE Bet Act, which targets sports betting advertising, affordability, and artificial intelligence in the industry. The proposed measures include banning ads during live sports events and restricting AI use by gambling operators.