BetMGM Sportsbook Launch In Iowa Proves State Is No Longer An Afterthought

Written By Derek Helling on January 4, 2021 - Last Updated on March 15, 2024
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In the first two weekdays of 2021, two new online sports betting options have launched in the Hawkeye State. BetMGM Iowa Sportsbook went live on Monday.

In the new year, the IA market for online sports betting has become much more attractive for operators.

Details on the BetMGM Iowa Sportsbook, now readily available

BetMGM, under the Diamond Jo Casino Dubuque‘s license, is now accepting wagers online in the Hawkeye State. The retail sportsbook at the casino retains its FanDuel branding, however.

Iowans can visit the desktop website or use an Android or iOS app. A press release from BetMGM makes no mention of either a deposit or registration bonus exclusively for new customers in Iowa.

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BetMGM becomes the second online-only operator in Iowa. It’s also the second to go live in 2021, following the launch of BetRivers on Friday.

Online sports betting has been legal and live since August 2019. So, why did these two operators wait until now to make themselves available in Iowa? It’s all about the ease of access.

Iowa is suddenly worth the effort now

On Friday, the state’s in-person registration for online sportsbooks expired. Now and forever, bettors can register for all and any licensed books completely over the internet.

MGM and Rivers don’t have any casinos in the state, so the only option through 2020 was to partner with a casino for not only an online skin but to run the retail book as well. Obviously, that wasn’t a preferential approach for BetMGM or BetRivers Sportsbook.

While online-only operators still have to share their revenues with the license holders (casinos) as the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission doesn’t offer untethered licenses, the old framework was inferior. Now that online registration is available, operators can try to grab a significant portion of the IA market using the same tactics they employ elsewhere.

For the most part, that tends to be guerrilla marketing (mass media advertising) and offering special promotions around sporting events of localized relevance. For example, BetMGM customers should expect to see bonuses around Iowa Hawkeyes men’s basketball and regional NFL teams soon.

While the sports betting market in IA may never approach handle totals in more populous states, it’s now equipped to compete as far as logistics go. BetMGM won’t be the last operator to go live this year.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. 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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