About Us » Iowa Gaming History

In 1983, Iowa legislators signed the Pari-mutuel Wagering Act into law.

On April 1, 1991, Iowa opened the first riverboat casinos in the country. The three riverboats that premiered that day were the Dubuque Casino Belle; the Diamond Lady in Bettendorf; and The President in Dubuque. They were quickly followed by the launch of the Emerald Lady in Burlington on May 10, 1991.

Since then, successful riverboats and land-based casinos have emerged across the Iowa landscape to bring billions of dollars of economic impact to the state.

For a complete history of gaming in Iowa, view the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission’s detailed chronology section. For an overview of voting referendums, click here.

$22.6 BILLION:

Amount of money generated by gaming tax revenue since 1991.

In 2016, gaming in Iowa had its 25th birthday. Since the inception of commercial gaming in our state, casinos have generated billions of dollars in tax revenue that has been used to fund important programs such as the Environment First Fund, RIIF, Iowa Skilled Workers, Vision Iowa and County Endowment Grants. See how taxes are spent here.