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You can’t bet on March Madness if you are under 21

Sports betting kiosk at Diamond Jo Worth casino near Northwood

DES MOINES — The NCAA basketball tournament is underway for the first time since sports gambling was legalized in Iowa.

Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko says there’s a lot of excitement after last year’s tourney was canceled by COVID. But he says you have to be 21 to do any betting on the games.

“The sports operators have a very robust age and identity verification process prior to letting people sign up for accounts,” he says. Ohorilko says you may’ve gone through this type of verification with your bank or credit union.

“Many of the controls that are used in the sports wagering industry are very similar to the financial controls that are used in the banking industry when people are trying to determine the identity of someone accessing their financial accounts. It’s a very similar process,” according to Ohorilko.

He says some companies have additional proprietary controls of their own they use to verify identities. And there are some tried and true methods.
He says if they can’t verify the identity of the person signing up then they may request additional information, such as the photocopy of and ID.

Adults sometimes try to sneak underage people into casinos, and Ohorilko says that is a possibility with online gambling as well. “We always have the risk of a willing adult signing up or passing along their account information to a minor. But short of that, it really is very difficult for underage customers to obtain an account,” Ohorilko says.

Sports gambling companies face fines from the Racing and Gaming Commission if they are found to have allowed someone under the legal age to gamble. They are also required to cross-check gambling requests with the state self-ban list to keep people on that list from signing up.

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