BlueBet Sportsbook Aims To Make Debut In Iowa

Posted By Russ Mitchell on July 14, 2021 - Last Updated on July 16, 2021

The BlueBet Sportsbook has a casino agreement in place and may be coming to Iowa at the start of 2022, the Australia-based company told PlayIA on Thursday.

BlueBet will enter the state as a wholly-owned subsidiary called BlueBet Iowa LLC. It has a sportsbook agreement with the Dubuque Racing Association, which operates Q Casino.

An announcement Wednesday from BlueBet Holdings included comments from CEO Bill Richmond:

“Iowa is a large wagering market with huge potential, and it perfectly fits our criteria. Since sports betting was approved by the Iowa Legislature in August 2019 it has grown rapidly to a US $1 billion-plus market in FY21.”

Q Casino already operates Q Sportsbook. Richmond said BlueBet won’t take over the Dubuque casino’s in-house brand. Instead, BlueBet will operate “as an extension of the existing casino license.” Richmond also told PlayIA that BlueBet Holdings won’t rush its sportsbook in Iowa just for the sake of capturing the start of the 2021 football season.

“We certainly want our products to be 100% right when we come into the market, because we think that’s really the key differentiator between sportsbooks.”

BlueBet wants to go live in a couple of states at the start of next year. Iowa may be its first US market. But, look for different branding when the app goes live. Richmond said Australians appreciate the “true blue” meaning behind BlueBet. In the US, “blue” can take on a different connotation:

“We’re probably not going to use the ‘BlueBet’ brand in the US market. Obviously, it’s become quite a divisive thing in the US — the blue and red state sort of thing.”

The company is testing a few brand ideas for the US market and plans an announcement soon.

Iowa sports betting industry has room to grow

Casinos in Iowa can partner with up to three distinct online sportsbooks. Bettors don’t have to visit a brick-and-mortar site like Q Casino to sign up for their favorite sports betting apps. Remote registration became legal in Iowa at the start of 2021.

BlueBet’s CEO liked that about 85% of Iowa sports wagers occur through the internet and mobile devices.

“This is a significant milestone in BlueBet’s entry to the USA market. We are taking a very considered, staged approach to market entry in the USA, and we are tremendously excited to be announcing this agreement with the Dubuque Racing Association.”

Iowa code calls for an initial $45,000 licensing fee each time a sportsbook wants to operate in the state.

BlueBet said it chose Iowa as one of its initial target jurisdictions because of:

  • Legalized statewide online mobile gaming
  • Low capital expenditure requirements
  • Acceptable taxation and regulatory requirements
  • A significant population base

In the regulated sports betting market, every operator must keep players’ accounts safe and secure. App and geolocation functions also must be certified by an independent lab. Finally, sportsbook operators must meet standards to address problem gambling, including self-exclusion.

BlueBet, Q Casino could extend pact

BlueBet plans to use Q Casino’s existing license for five years. The pact will automatically renew for an additional five years, unless BlueBet wants out. In addition to Iowa, BlueBet lists Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee and Maryland as “priority states.”

Richmond said:

“We are a company with really strong roots in Australia, but we understand what our customers want. And we are very focused on our customers want. The chairman of BlueBird, Michael Sullivan, has been a 30-year bookmaker in Australia. He previously did this with a company called Sportingbet, which has been taken over by William Hill. So we certainly have a long history of producing platforms that we think the customers really enjoy.”

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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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