About Us » Iowa Gaming History

Commercial gaming in Iowa has been thriving since the first riverboat opened for business in 1991. Below you will find a compilation of history and election results for referendums since the Pari-mutuel Wagering Act was signed into law in 1983. For more detail on election results, click on the year in the first column of the table below or contact the respective County Auditor.   

1983 The Pari-mutuel Wagering Act was signed to allow wagering on horse and dog racing in the state of Iowa.
1989 Bills were signed to expand pari-mutuel wagering, including simulcast races, and to allow for casino wagering on riverboats in counties where voters approve riverboat gaming referendums.

Riverboat gaming referendums were approved by voters in eight Iowa counties
1991 The first riverboat casinos opened for business.
1992 Voters in two additional counties approved riverboat referendums.
1994 Three casino sites opened.
1995 A referendum vote was held and approved.
Four casino sites opened.
1996 Two casino sites opened.
1997 A referendum vote was held and approved.
2000 Three casino sites opened.
2002 Voters in 11 counties approved referendums to continue casino gaming at racetracks and riverboat casinos. These referendums passed by an average of 74 percent, which confirmed overwhelming recognition of the significant positive impact gaming properties have on communities and the state's entertainment and tourism industry.
2003 Voters in eight counties without gaming facilities held referendums on whether to allow casinos. Four counties approved the referendums; four counties failed.
2004 Voters in seven counties without gaming facilities held referendums on whether to allow casinos. Three counties approved the referendums; four counties failed.
2005 The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission voted to allow four additional licenses.
2006 Two counties without gaming facilities held referendum votes; one passed and one failed.

Three casino sites opened.
2007 One Iowa county defeats bid for casino.

The 17th casino site opened.
2008 Two counties without gaming facilities held referendum votes; one passed and one was defeated.
2009 The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission conducted a thorough study of the state’s gaming environment to determine if there were any underserved areas. The IRGC determined to issue one new license, which went to Lyon County.
2010 Voters in 14 counties (home to 16 casinos) overwhelmingly approved the continued operation of casinos in their communities by an average of 78.5 percent.

Four counties without gaming facilities held referendum votes on whether to allow casinos. Three counties approved the referendums; one county failed.
2011 18th casino site opens.
2013 Three counties without gaming facilities held referendum votes. Two passed; one failed.
2015 19th casino site opens.

$65.8 Million:

Money granted in 2015 to Iowa community projects & nonprofit organizations by IGA commercial casinos.

Commercial gaming in Iowa positively influences the communities in which facilities reside, as well as beyond. In 2015, IGA member casinos distributed more than $65.8 million in grants to worthy organizations, as well as $393.7 million in local, county and state taxes.