Sweet 16: Circa Sports Brings Sports Betting App To Iowa Today

Written By Russ Mitchell on October 7, 2021

There is a little more Vegas in Iowa as of 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, when Circa Sports went live as the 16th online sportsbook in IA.

Mike Palm, the vice president of operations at Circa, announced the pending launch on Tuesday.

Circa Sports has an agreement with Wild Rose Jefferson to go live in the state. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) approved the contract in April.

Circa Sports CEO Derek Stevens said in a press release:

“We are thrilled to expand Circa Sports to Iowa and the Midwest. Iowa marks the third state of operation for our mobile app, and we’ve appreciated the collaboration with Wild Rose and Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission on bringing this launch to fruition.”

The app is available to download. The company doesn’t have a website for desktop bettors yet:

 

Circa brings ‘full slate’ to Iowa bettors

Known as the “world’s largest sportsbook,” Circa Sports has a towering retail presence in Las Vegas and operates mobile and online betting in Colorado as well. Circa Sports’ digital sportsbook dates back to 2019.

Stevens thinks Iowa customers should get a fairly complete experience on Day 1.

He told PlayIA:

“We’re trying to come out with a full slate, but certainly as time goes on, we will continue to add to the menu. We certainly want to open up in a clean manner. Going into a new state, it’s important to note that there’s always gonna be a couple of fits and spurts as you launch, whether it’s in sports or in any business. You’re always going to have a couple of issues. But we plan to come out with a full slate and we plan on adding to it as time goes by.”

Stevens honed in on the state because customers can register online and place bets from anywhere in Iowa. Prior to 2021, betting customers had to visit an Iowa casino to set up an account:

“Once that period ended, Wild Rose reached out to us and we thought the time was right. We were impressed with Iowa’s thoroughness on evaluating sportsbook operators. So, we thought the whole thing just came together, frankly.”

The Wild Rose casinos have partnerships with DraftKings and BetRivers sportsbooks as well. State policies allow Iowa’s 19 casinos to carry up to three sportsbook brands.

What will Circa Sports bring to Iowa?

Stevens hopes Iowa customers note Circa Sports’ focus on customer service and a low-hold model:

“We’re not a company that’s going to limit somebody on their wagers — win or lose. We’ve enjoyed working with both professional and first-time sports bettors. So I’d say that would be one of the key things. The other thing I think we bring to Iowa is: I think it’s important for a sports bettor to have multiple apps on their phone.”

The CEO thinks Circa Sports will stand out by offering favorable odds. Futures markets and golf bets are a couple of examples.

“I think you’re going to see, in some of these types of pools, we run a lower hold percentage model. And we don’t back down from allowing people to bet large wagers.”

Other features include future bets in parlays and two-sided yes/no future betting. Circa said funds can be transferred using ACH, wire transfer and Sightline.

Why the Iowa sports betting market is such a draw

Sportsbook companies that want to operate in the state must pay an initial $45,000 licensing fee.

Sixteen sportsbooks operate in Iowa, with 14 offering mobile betting. Fubo and Betway went live within the past few weeks.

Wild Rose has casinos in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson. So, the casino group could offer up to nine different sport betting options. And, if all 19 casinos maxed out their license capacity, Iowa bettors could have 57 different options in theory.

Some casinos won’t see the need to carry extra sportsbooks. Others may have exclusive arrangements with their existing sportsbook partners.

IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko said the state “may see a slowdown” in the number of operators partner with casinos. Some sports betting operators may acquire competitors to consolidate a fragmented market as well:

“With growth, we may see some differences in terms of what these companies look like in the future. It will be interesting to just continue to monitor that and really look at the difference year-over-year when we get to next year.”

Once the IRGC receives an application, the approval process can take a few weeks to a few months.

Photo by Circa Sports
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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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