Bally’s Stays Busy, Secures Market Access To Iowa For Online Sports Betting

Posted on November 30, 2020

A once-quiet brand in the gambling industry has been making the most noise of late. Bally’s sportsbook coming to Iowa may not be the loudest bang in that succession, but it’s the most recent.

The market-access deal comes on the heels of securing naming rights for a national network of content studios and the acquisition of a robust platform for its online operations.

Now, the entire plan may come to fruition in the Hawkeye State.

Another development in the story of Bally’s sportsbook

The whole chain of events started earlier this month when the former Twin River Holdings acquired the Bally’s brand from Caesars. Twin River then rebranded itself under the Bally’s banner.

Since then, it’s wasted no time. Bally’s acquired Bet.Works, an online casino and sports betting software company. With that, it has the tools to interject itself into as many viable markets as it wishes.

That will likely include the Iowa market at some point. Bally’s has reached a deal for an online skin under the master license that Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood holds.

If online casino games ever become legal in IA, this deal will cover that as well. However, the contract is still pending approval from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC).

That could come as soon as next month. There’s no timetable for when the online sportsbook will go live in IA if the IRGC does approve the agreement.

It will most likely not be until early next year at the earliest, however. Not only because Bally’s needs time to get its product ready but also because Iowa’s in-person registration requirement for online wagering doesn’t expire until New Year’s Day.

Whenever Bally’s is ready to go live in IA, it will face an uphill climb to gain market share. Other brands, such as William Hill, are entrenched in the market.

It may have a path to even the odds, however.

Bally’s deal with Sinclair could level the playing field

Sinclair Broadcasting owns 21 regional sports television networks. While none of those make their homes in the state, Iowans have access to a few of them.

These include networks formerly known as Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports North. Through carriers DirecTV and Mediacom, Iowans can watch, e.g., Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Cardinals games.

For at least the next decade, those networks will now bear Bally’s name and branding. In addition to that name dropping, the RSNs will feature Bally’s odds for events with a special focus on in-game markets.

Through those channels, Bally’s could get a lot of IA bettors’ eyes on its product. Of course, there’s no guarantee that will mean a high conversion rate into actual depositors on the sports betting app and website, but it gives Bally’s a shot.

With the looming expiration of the face-to-face sign-up mandate, the Iowa sports betting industry is about to change. It looks like Bally’s will be along for the ride.

Photo by Wayne Parry / AP
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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