Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest sports gambling day of the year, and Iowa business owners are finding creative ways to capitalize while they avoid breaking the law.
Mark Nicola expects a big crowd at his restaurant, Angelo’s on 8th in West Des Moines.
Without a regional team like the Bears, Vikings, Packers, or Chiefs playing in the big game, keeping people around for four quarters is tricky.
“You have to do everything you can to get a piece of the pie that day,” said Nicola.
Nicola wants customers invested in the outcome.
When he opened his restaurant in November, he quickly got his hands on a social gambling license.
It allows him to legally organize a betting pool at his restaurant.
“What you do is hope your numbers hook up at the end of the quarter or end of the game,” Nicola told Channel 13 News.
According to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, any social gambling done in a restaurant or bar must be done in the form of a betting chart.
No customer can wager more than $5 dollars and $500 dollars is the most that can be at stake.
“It has to be done in an open fashion. There can be no hidden numbers,” said David Werning with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.
No hidden numbers and no hidden dollars. All money must go back to the participants.
If the restaurant is making money off the pool, that’s considered a sports book which is illegal in Iowa.
“The loser will often come forward and say something is crooked or they don’t have a license,” said Werning.
While a restaurant or bar can’t profit directly off the game, Nicola says it’s smart business to organize a pool.
“It’s just something nice to have in your pocket to generate interest,” said Nicola.
Restaurants or bars caught breaking the rules can face a $1,000 fine and loss of their social gambling license.
Repeat offenders risk having their liquor license suspended.