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Iowa gamblers likely to bet big on March Madness

By Max Cotton,

2023-03-14

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Teams from across Iowa and the nation will be hitting the hardwood as the NCAA Tournament returns this week. But March Madness isn’t confined to the arena, Iowans will take part in the action as the tournament is one of the biggest gambling events of the year.

Whether at a sportsbook located in a casino or using an app, fans across the state will be betting big and small on college basketball.

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Iowa Gaming Association President and CEO Wes Ehrecke said about $233 million was wagered in the state on sports in March 2022. While that covers all sports, college basketball was the big driver of that figure.

He also stressed the importance of betting responsibly. Whether someone’s a regular gambler or a newcomer, it’s important they stay within their means.

“We take that very seriously as an industry,” Ehrecke said. “We emphasize bet with your head, not over it, and use discretionary dollars earmarked for entertainment. And so you see that about on every ad that the casinos have.”

He said apps do allow bettors to set limits on how much they can wager in a certain time period.

Iowa gambling laws allow anyone over 21 to bet as long as they are physically in the state. They do not need to be Iowa residents.

Ehrecke said that means they could potentially place a wager from their seat at Wells Fargo Arena while it’s hosting tournament games Thursday and Saturday.

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