Iowa Sports Betting Revenue Growth Stagnant in October

Posted on November 14, 2019 - Last Updated on December 3, 2019

In September, there were seven Iowa legal sportsbooks offering bettors an online wagering option. In October, that number remained. Accordingly, Iowa sports betting revenue didn’t grow much either month over month.

The state’s 19 licensees took in just over $46.5 million in bets during October. While that’s up about $8 million from September, that growth is minuscule in comparison to what it could be.

Diving deeper into Iowa October sports betting revenue

One big reason for the $8 million uptick was that more retail sportsbooks were live in October. In September, only 15 of the 19 licensees actually reported revenue. In October, that was up to 18. Here’s a look at some key figures from October’s revenue report.

  • Retail handle grew from $16.73 million to over $20.57 million.
  • Online wagers accounted for about 55.7% of total handle in October.
  • Online handle was up more than $4 million, about the same percentage of growth as retail saw for the month.
  • Total October revenue from both sources combined was just under $5.66 million, again an increase from the previous month.
  • The state collected about $381,379 in taxes during October. That was an increase of almost $50,000 from September.

Once again, the Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino blew away the competition. It took in over $17.82 million in bets for the month, more than four times the next facility on the list (Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo).

Looking at the breakdown of the handle at Prairie Meadows is a good indication of why growth has been stagnant. It’s also an indication of what can turn that around.

For sports betting in Iowa, the app is where it’s at

Over 91.4% of Prairie Meadows’ handle for October came from mobile bets. Even if Prairie Meadows didn’t have a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, the bets from the mobile platform alone would have blown away the competition.

That’s encouraging given the fact that none of the mobile brands available in the Hawkeye State right now exactly command nationwide recognition. While PointsBet may begin operating in Iowa soon, other brands like DraftKings and FanDuel have announced no concrete intentions to begin accepting wagers in the state.

While an $8 million increase in a state with a population as small as Iowa’s could be considered decent growth, there are other factors to consider. The first is that none of Iowa’s neighboring states currently offer legal sports betting, so Iowa’s market isn’t limited to Iowa residents only.

For the sake of comparison, Indiana’s handle nearly doubled from September to October. Besides the difference in population, the structure of the Hoosier State market sets it apart from the Hawkeye State.

Choice and convenience key to growth for sports betting

Indiana bettors can currently choose between BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel for mobile betting options. The brand power those last two names carry brings with it a lot of action for Indiana’s operators.

Additionally, there is a huge difference in the legal framework between the states. Iowa requires bettors who wish to place mobile bets to first register in person until New Year’s Day 2021. In Indiana, the entire process happens online.

Until that tenet of the Iowa law sunsets, growth in the Hawkeye State could be limited. The debut of brands like PointsBet would also greatly augment Iowa’s market.

For now, however, growth in Iowa will resemble the state’s bean and corn fields. The market should increase steadily, but slowly.

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Derek Helling

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