Ameristar Casino Hotel in Council Bluffs will kick off sports betting at 4 p.m. Thursday in its newly renovated Amerisports Bar & Grill. Tim Dwight, a two-time All-America selection for the Iowa Hawkeyes and 10-year NFL veteran, is slated to place the first bet, said Christie Scott, an Ameristar spokeswoman.
A full house of more than 500 people is expected for the grand opening, said Paul Czak, the casino’s general manager. Two hundred “VIP” guests have already reserved seats.
“We’re opening at a really good time,” Czak said. “People are talking about it in my neighborhood. We haven’t had any trouble pushing the word out.”
Seven other Iowa casinos also will open sports betting parlors Thursday, according to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission:
- Prairie Meadows, Altoona
- Lakeside, Osceola
- Isle Waterloo
- Isle Bettendorf
- Rhythm City, Davenport
- Catfish Bend, Burlington
Most of the rest of the 19 state-regulated casinos are expected to open sports betting before the NFL starts its regular season Sept. 5.
Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates
Receive a summary of the day’s popular and trending stories from Omaha.com.
Harrah’s and Horseshoe casinos in Council Bluffs said their sportsbooks will open Aug. 23, with a celebrity ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Horseshoe Whiskey Roadhouse. Heisman Trophy-winning Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch and WBO welterweight boxing champion Terence “Bud” Crawford both are scheduled to appear.
The Iowa Legislature passed a sports-gambling measure last spring, making it one of 11 states to implement legal sportsbooks to date. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission set Aug. 15 as the first date for legal betting. Legislators in Nebraska took no action this year to enact sports betting in the state.
The Iowa law permits legal betting on professional, college and international sporting events. It also legalizes fantasy sports contests and Internet fantasy sports betting. The new law excludes some forms of sports betting, such as bets based on performances of individual players for in-state college teams.
Residents of Nebraska and other states will be able to place sports wagers at Iowa casinos using a mobile app, but they will have to travel to the casino to set up an account in person. And because the app is geofenced within Iowa’s borders, out-of-state bettors will have to cross into Iowa each time they want to place a bet.
Ameristar, though, won’t be offering mobile betting until mid-2020, Czak said. He said Ameristar’s parent company, Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns 41 casinos nationwide, has decided to develop its own app for use at sportsbooks in other states that legalize sports betting, too.
1 of 20
Boxing has been a lifelong passion for Terence "Bud" Crawford, shown here in 1998 or '99 at age 11 at the C.W. Boxing Club in Omaha.
By 2005, Terence "Bud" Crawford was one of the nation's top amateur boxers in his weight class.
Terence "Bud" Crawford celebrates his victory over Carlos Molina at the 2006 Golden Gloves tournament. Crawford went on to fall in the national championship bout.
Terence "Bud" Crawford received a hero's welcome when he returned to Eppley Airfield from Scotland after winning the WBO lightweight title.
Fighting for the first time as a professional in Omaha, Terence "Bud" Crawford defended his WBO lightweight title with a technical knockout victory over Yuriorkis Gamboa at the CenturyLink Center in June 2014.
Terence "Bud" Crawford's first professional fight in Omaha drew a crowd of nearly 11,000 people to the CenturyLink Center.
Terence "Bud" Crawford again defended his title at the CenturyLink Center in November 2014 with a 12-round unanimous decision over Ray Beltran. It was Crawford's last fight as a lightweight.
Terence "Bud" Crawford received the Sugar Ray Robinson Memorial Fighter of the Year Award during a ceremony in New York City in April 2015.
Terence "Bud" Crawford's sons — Tyrese, left, then age 2, and Terence III, right, then age 4 — carry their father's title belts during the Native Omaha Days parade in August 2015.
Terence "Bud" Crawford knocked out Dierry Jean at the CenturyLink Center in October 2015 to retain his junior welterweight title.
Terence "Bud" Crawford has represented both Nebraska and Creighton in the ring, often wearing gear from one of the schools before and after fights. He was honored on the field at Memorial Stadium during Nebraska's game against Iowa in November 2015.
This award-winning photo of Terence "Bud" Crawford was taken in February 2016 as the champ trained in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for his upcoming fight against Hank Lundy.
Terence "Bud" Crawford once again defended his junior welterweight title in February 2016 with a technical knockout over Hank Lundy in front of a sellout crowd at the Theater of Madison Square Garden.
Terence "Bud" Crawford added another honor to his impressive résumé in July 2016 when he collected the WBC super lightweight title and the 140-pound lineal crown to go with his WBO junior welterweight championship after winning a unanimous decision over Viktor Postol at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Terence "Bud" Crawford dominated John Molina Jr. in December 2016 at the CenturyLink Center, winning every round on each judge's scorecard before earning a technical knockout victory in the eighth round.
Terence "Bud" Crawford's next title defense took place in the main arena at Madison Square Garden on May 20 against Felix Diaz. "This is where all of the great champions fought, and I want to be a big part of it," he said at a press conference announcing the fight.
Terence "Bud" Crawford, sporting Omaha shorts, lands a punch on Felix Diaz at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Crawford won after the fight was stopped after the 10th round.
Terence Crawford celebrates his third-round knockout win over Julius Indongo at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday, August 19, 2017. The victory made Crawford boxing's only undisputed champion.
Terence "Bud" Crawford scored a knockout win in the 12th round against Jose Benavidez. The event in Omaha drew 13,323 fans and was Crawford's first defense of his WBO welterweight title.
Terence "Bud" Crawford defeated Amir Khan on April 21, 2019, in Madison Square Garden. More than 14,000 fans saw the champ retain his WBO welterweight title.