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2018 Update

Pari-Mutual wagering was legalized in 1983. In 1985 pari-mutual racing began at several fair tracks around the state. Fair racing ended in 1988, and in 1989 the states first commercial track, Prairie Meadows opened in Altoona.

In 1994 Iowa legalized slot gaming at Prairie Meadows, which helped the recovery for the track that filed for bankruptcy in 1991. Prairie Meadows opened it's casino in 1995.

In 2011 three separate meets were held at Prairie Meadows for thoroughbreds, quarter horses, and standardbreds as it remains the only horse racing facility in Iowa. In 2015 standardbreds were eliminated from the Prairie Meadows schedule and now run only at non betting fairs across the state.

As far as Iowa racing goes, the news is good, better, best. The good news, if your driving through Iowa and want to visit Prairie Meadows, there's a good chance your on Interstate 80, so your going to go right by it. The better news is that it's open 7/24, 365 so you can always find some action. Prairie Meadows features two race meets, thoroughbred, and quarter horse from April to October. There used to be harness racing but that looks like it has been discontinued. The best news about Iowa, at least while it lasts is that it is one of three states that breaks to a dime, which means if you show bet, you can make twice the money on heavy favorites then you can at almost any other track in the country.

Iowa, also has two dog tracks, one at Dubuque on the Minnesota, Illinois border. The second one is on the other end of the state at Council Bluffs, on the Nebraska border.

2018 Update

Another state that only has one pari mutual horse racing track. The only change to Prairie Meadows, was the elimination of harness racing. The track still runs a separate thoroughbred and harness horse meet. Not sure how it will be this year, but until now Iowa is one a few states that still breaks to a dime, making it a haven for show betters.

On the doggie front, Iowa is down to one track, Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque. Council Bluffs, the track blamed for the demise of Ak-Sar-Ben, has itself gone out of business.