Iowa Sportsbooks Smash Handle Record In September Thanks To Football Wagering

Posted on October 9, 2020 - Last Updated on October 14, 2020

No Iowa Hawkeyes football? No problem. The Iowa sports betting market set a new record for handle in September despite the absence of the Big Ten.

The Iowa State Cyclones‘ shortened football season and the start of the 2020-21 NFL season proved to be sufficient to top old highs in both categories. Two sportsbook brands joining the Iowa sports betting market helped as well.

Iowa sports betting breaks record for handle

In truth, it wasn’t hard to see this coming.

The last revenue report in August nearly equaled the best months ever in IA sports betting history — and bettors didn’t have any live football games then.

Iowa sportsbooks handled over $72.39 million in September. That smashed the old record of $59.34 million set in November 2019.

The Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission‘s monthly revenue report doesn’t break handle down by sport. So, although we don’t know how much Iowa bettors wagered on football, it’s difficult to argue that the Cyclones and the NFL had nothing to do with this record.

After comps and payouts, the 18 licensees kept an also-record amount of $5.16 million. That’s the highest such mark since October 2019 when books claimed $5.66 million.

A breakdown by facility and operator shows an 18.1% increase in handle from last month, and shows retail sportsbooks are staying steady with their share of the market. Furthermore, 30.02% of the dollars wagered came from a brick-and-mortar sportsbook in Iowa last month.

CasinoHandleOnline HandleRetail HandleRevenueTaxes (6.75%)
Totals$72,397,241$50,010,623.39$22,386,617.61$5,167,819.41$348,827.61
Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino (William Hill)$18,299,274.62$16,970,097.72$1,329,176.90$1,097,047.17$74,050.68
Wild Rose - Jefferson (DraftKings) $6,918,600.99$6,812,423.95$106,177.04$386,243.05$26,071.41
Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo (William Hill)$6,458,241.19$6,144,049.39$314,191.80$376,640.28$25,423.22
Diamond Jo - Worth (FanDuel)$6,098,246.66$1,200,358.91 $4,897,887.75$732,822.51$49,465.52
Ameristar II$5,667,710.34$0.00$5,667,710.34$803,248.78$54,219.29
Riverside Casino and Golf Resort (Elite)$5,606,663.25$4,673,482.39$933,180.86$266,984.05$18,021.42
Diamond Jo - Dubuque (FanDuel)$3,933,392.52$3,023,819.77$909,572.75$173,180.23$11,689.67
Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs $2,998,329.22$0.00$2,998,329.22$339,405.48$22,909.87
Q Casino (Q Sportsbook)$2,488,296.96$1,316,658.44$1,171,638.52$40,657.26$2,744.16
Isle of Capri - Bettendorf (William Hill)$2,211,024.03$1,724,312.03$486,712.00$136,044.39$9,183.00
Hard Rock Casino (Hard Rock)$1,976,816.00$1,097,139.81$879,676.19$157,974.95$10,663.31
Wild Rose - Clinton (DraftKings)$1,949,324.93$1,818,983.72$130,341.21$72,638.47$4,903.10
Grand Falls Casino (BetFred)$1,872,032.99$611,579.31$1,260,453.68$151,380.16$10,218.16
Catfish Bend Casino (PointsBet)$1,679,036.17$1,352,241.57$326,794.60$119,863.95$8,090.82
Rhythm City Casino (Elite)$1,380,010.69$927,678.08$452,332.61$121,896.48$8,228.01
Wild Rose - Emmetsburg (DraftKings)$1,320,360.32$1,250,995.40$69,364.92$61,200.17$4,131.01
Lakeside Casino (William Hill)$1,424,366.70$1,086,802.90$337,563.80$129,403.96$8,734.77
Harrah's Council Bluffs Casino & Hotel$115,513.42$0.00$115,513.42$1,188.07$80.19
Casino Queen - Marquette$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00

For the first time, it’s possible to do some real year-over-year measuring of the industry’s growth. September 2019 was the first full month of legal wagering in Iowa.

That month, bettors wagered over $38.52 million. However, it’s important to note that only eight licensees were accepting in-person wagers and that a mere seven of the 19 operators were registering online sports bettors.

Still, an increase of 47.8% in handle year over year is something the industry won’t turn down.

While William Hill Sportsbook continues to dominate the online market (51.8% of online handle in September), that share is slightly down from nearly 59% in August.

That’s because Betfred and FanDuel picked a great time to go online in Iowa. The potential return of Hawkeye football could spur those brands’ growth in the market.

Betfred, FanDuel make waves

Through their partnerships with the Diamond Jo (FanDuel) and Grand Falls (Betfred) casinos in Iowa, Betfred and FanDuel began offering online sports betting just before the NFL kicked off its 2020-21 season.

Those two books accounted for $4.83 million in online handle in September. That could be just a humble beginning for three reasons, however.

The Iowa Hawkeyes may play a shortened football season, starting on Oct. 24. While the decision to only play other Big Ten teams this year will still mean there will be no Cy-Hawk game in 2020, Hawkeye game betting could mean more handle for all books in the state.

Additionally, regional NFL teams have gotten off to a good start.

The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings are a combined 13-4 through the first four weeks of the regular season.

The potential best news for Iowa online sportsbooks is drawing near.

In-person registration will no longer be necessary after New Year’s Eve, meaning bettors in IA can register for all licensed books completely over the internet.

The College Football Playoff, NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl are all potentially on the schedule to complement the advent of online registration. So, the Iowa sports betting market could continue to break records into January and February. Until then, this is the new gold standard.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. 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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