Three more casinos win approval to create sports book areas

NORTHWOOD — The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved renovation plans for three casinos Thursday to create areas for sports books.

Commission administrator, Brian Ohorilko, says the Lakeside Casino in Osceola is using existing space. He says they had existing space in the lower deck of their boat and they are spending an estimated $150,000 to transform it into a sports book.

Ohorilko says the Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood included the sports book in with another renovation project. “There was a $1.5 million renovation for a sports book. But then in addition to that — $8.5 million set aside for improvements to the hotel and RV park,”he says.

The Hard Rock Casino in Sioux City is also a renovating an area in the current building.”It took some existing space in the wine bar, their high-limit area. There was a project conversion of approximately 895-thousand dollar total budget,” according to Ohorilko. “And that will essentially turn some of that area into a sports book.”

Ohorilko says the 19 state-licensed casinos are moving as quickly as they can to have a sports book in place after the governor signed the bill legalizing sports betting into law in May. “It’s hard to say what we’ll see down the road. I know most of the properties are anxious to have things up and ready prior to the football season,” Ohorilko says. “There’s only so much that you can do in a few months. And so we are seeing remodels right now that just updates that existing space. It’s hard to say if we’ll see more material renovations as time moves on.”

Ohorilko says there are a lot of unknowns about how many gamblers might use the sports books or how many would use an online option. He says that is whey there is a lot of renovation of existing spaces. “I think a lot of it is everything is just moving so quickly and the facilities are wanting to make sure they’re not making material plans for their facilities until they really know what the impact will be at each of their locations,” according to Ohorilko.

He says they are on track with the rule-making so it may be possible that you could legally place a bet in Iowa on the first college football games of the year.

Prairie Meadows casino in Altoona was the first to create a sports book area, including it in their remodeling plans.