The move comes after a bill to legalized sports betting passed the Iowa Senate and would still need to be passed in the House. Iowa Racing and Gaming administrator, Brian Ohorilko says the Catfish Bend plan would spend one million dollars.
“There was some areas for a betting lounge, some TV’s, a little restaurant area and a bar,” Ohorilko says. The Prairie Meadows Casino in Altoona was the first to get plans for a sports betting area that the operation is incorporating into an existing remodeling project. Ohorilko says each of the 19 state-licensed casinos is handling their own plans.
“A few of them have made arrangements already and have entered into agreements contingent on legislation passing,” Ohorilko says. “A number of other operators are just monitoring the situation, and are prepared to respond if the opportunity arises.” Ohorilko says it is important for the casinos to think ahead for the possibility of sport betting.
“We don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing at all for them to start thinking about this,” Ohorilko says, “and it at least gives them an opportunity to make sure that anything they build — or any agreements that they are entering into — that there’s at least a thoughtful and deliberate approach to make sure we’re getting the best opportunities in the state of Iowa.”
He says the casinos are working with out-of-state sports book experts when they think about their designs for a sports book area.”They have experience in this, and so a lot of the Iowa operators are learning and getting an opportunity to learn from the various venders that are out there and available. So, the more time that they have to go through that process and vet the different vendors — I think there’s definitely some benefits to do that,” according to Ohorilko.
It’s not known exactly when the Iowa House might move forward with a sports betting bill.