Iowa State University hall-of-famer Dennis Gibson, a fan favorite in the 1980s, placed the inaugural wager at Wild Rose Jefferson’s new sports-betting operation.
On, of course, his alma mater.
And the former NFL player, who lives in Ankeny where he is now in the restaurant business, hit the $500 wager as the Cyclones trounced Texas Christian University 49-24 Saturday in Ames. (The winnings from Gibson’s Cyclone bet will go from Wild Rose to the Variety Club Children’s Charity of Iowa.)
“I think the expectations are just so much higher,” Gibson, 55, said in an interview about ISU. “I think Iowa State is kind of in the position of I think moving into the top tier in the Big 12.”
Wild Rose, partnering with Boston-based DraftKings, a national brand in the gaming field, Thursday afternoon opened its sports-betting book in the Coaches Corner restaurant and bar. With sports betting legal in Iowa, Wild Rose offers opportunities on a host of college and pro sports. The hot tickets after the ribbon cutting were Iowa State and Iowa.
“The sports book powered by DraftKings round out the entertainment options Wild Rose presents to its customers,” said Tom Timmons, Wild Rose president and chief operating officer. “More important, together with DraftKings, we are tapping into an emerging market of fans and players who enjoy the excitement and competition of sports betting.”
In the near term, gamblers can place bets at the casino and carry out tickets with them. By November Wild Rose expects to offer a mobile application through DraftKings that allows bettors to place their wagers remotely, as long as they are in the state of Iowa. Gamblers will sign up for the mobile application at Wild Rose until Jan. 2021 at which point the in-person requirement expires.
Timmons, a long-time gaming industry professional who was involved in the development of slot machines in Iowa casinos, said the addition of sports wagering is transformative.
“Now, here we are, 25 years later, this is the biggest change we’ve seen,” Timmons said.
Travis Dvorak, general manager at Wild Rose Jefferson, said the remodeling of the Wild Rose sports book area drew on contracts and labor from Carroll, Jefferson and Boone.
“This design is second to none in the state of Iowa,” Dvorak said.
The sports book has screens rostering the odds on football and baseball games and other sports. The setup is rounded out with televisions, large and small, for gamblers to watch the action at Wild Rose. There are kiosks in the restaurant and the casino floor for betting, and customers can place bets through the sports-book cashiers during certain hours of the day — hours determined in part on the sports schedule.
State Rep. Phil Thompson, a Jefferson Republican who helped shepherd the sports-gaming legislation through the capitol this past session, said it enhances an already strong Wild Rose, which is delivering jobs and non-profit contributions to a vast region of west-central Iowa, he said.
“I felt rural Iowa was in a lot of ways getting rolled over by our bigger cities,” Thompson said.
Thompson said Jefferson is on something of a roll itself now with recent economic-development announcements.
“We have a rare gem that will continue to deliver for us,” Thompson said.
DraftKings is working with Wild Rose at its other two casinos in Emmetsburg and Clinton.
Tim Dent, chief compliance officer at DraftKings, said the opening comes just as the football season is getting into full swing with key conference matchups approaching.
“It’s the perfect time to bring our retail sports-betting experience to Iowa,” Dent said. “Our retail locations allow fans to have an exceptional in-person experience with our product, and we are proud to show off our industry-leading technological prowess in each of the three locations. Iowa sports fans are in for a great time.”
The range of wagering opportunities is vast. Bettors can place wagers on what is called the money line — where they pick teams to simply win the game, a bet with odds based on the strength of the teams. It’s also possible to bet point spreads, where a team, as the Cyclones were Saturday, is favored to win. You can bet on the total amount of points scored in a game. People who have bet off shore or in Las Vegas are familiar with those bets.
One feature that’s new to many local gamblers is in-game wagering, in which gamblers can be on ever-changing lines and opportunities.
There are also future bets. Who do you think will win the World Series or the Super Bowl? The Dallas Cowboys, for example, are 10 to 1 to win the Super Bowl, meaning if you bet $100 and the Cowboys win, you take home close to $1,000 (minus the service change for placing the bet).
It’s also possible to bet on basketball, auto racing, golf, tennis, soccer, boxing, UFC fighting and other sports
“I think it’s an enjoyable form of entertainment for people,” Gibson said.