Iowa Sports Betting Handle Sees Steady Increase In September

Written By Adam Hensley on October 13, 2022
Sports betting handle in Iowa on a rise topping $200 million in September

The numbers are in – sports betting in Iowa boomed for the month of September.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission released its September numbers, which showed a sports betting handle of $200,230,740.78. That’s more than a $78 million increase from August.

September’s handle, though, was a slight decline from the same month’s numbers in 2021. Last year, Iowa netted a sports handle of roughly $216 million in September. September’s sports betting handle climbed from $38.5 million in 2019 to $73.4 million in 2020 before hitting its 2021 mark.

This summer, Iowa saw a slight decline month-to-month with its sports betting handle. From April to July, the number slowly decreased from $177.3 million to $108 million. August snapped that four-month skid, jumping to $122.6 million. September marked nearly a $78 million jump in handle, which was expected.

PlayIA talked with Brian Ohorilko, the IRGC administrator, back in September when the commission published August’s numbers. He said that the four-month negative trend wasn’t anything to lose sleep over. Ohorilko said:

“It was really September, October, November and December when the market really took off (in 2021). I think, at least at this point, the market has been trending to a very similar fashion to what we saw in 2021.”

Online sports betting in Iowa dominated

Iowa’s online sports betting handle blew past the retail handle for September. In that month, online sports betting generated a handle of $177,584,794.00. Retail sports betting tallied a handle of $22,645,946.78.

“Just anecdotally, speaking with other operators and regulators and things we can see from an advertising standpoint, it is the fall and winter months that are very popular, and that’s because of football season,” Ohorilko said last month.

In August, Iowa landed its 18th sportsbook in ClutchBet. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars and other industry-leading sportsbooks call Iowa home, too.

Which online sportsbooks put up the best numbers for September?

Crown Iowa Gaming LLC (DraftKings) netted the highest handle out of any online sportsbook in Iowa, tallying $66,013,893.23.

BetFair Interactive US LLC (FanDuel) boasted the second-highest handle at $42,395,339.85.

American Wagering (Caesars) had the third-highest handle at $30,533,769.02.

BetMGM LLC (BetMGM) was the fourth sportsbook with a handle higher than $10 million, clocking in at $16,577,620.06.

From there, no other sportsbook garnered a handle of more than $10 million. Penn Sports Interactive (Barstool Sportsbook) was the next-closest at $8,108,225.21.

DraftKings enjoyed a massive leap from August to September, doubling its handle from $33.2 million the month before. FanDuel’s handle rose roughly $13 million from August to September, and Caesars increased slightly more than $8 million over that same time frame.

Looking at year-over-year numbers, one thing that stands out is Caesars’ drop in the market. The sportsbook generated a handle of $67,753,449.13 in September 2021. That’s essentially $30 million more than its handle in 2022.

Plenty of factors go into this, as Caesars — at the time, William Hill — was the first sportsbook to call Iowa home. There’s more competition on the market now, with nearly every big name in the sports betting world having a stake in Iowa.

Iowa doesn’t track numbers for individual sports, but football is king

The IRGC does not keep specific data on a per-sport basis. But it’s not a secret that football – both professional and collegiate – drives the market, Ohorilko told PlayIA last month.

September marked the start of college and NFL football. With a full month of betting on Iowa, Iowa State and the professional teams surrounding the state, it’s not a shock the sports betting handle jumped from August to September.

Projecting Iowa’s sports betting handle for the rest of the calendar year

As college and NFL football seasons hit their peak, one can assume so will sports betting numbers across the state.

The highest sports betting handles from Fiscal Year 2022 spanned from October 2021 to January 2022. Those months all racked up a handle of more than $266 million. January topped out at $303.3 million.

In September, Ohorilko told PlayIA that by looking at how other states in a similar time frame to Iowa’s, you can get a good grip on forecasting how the rest of the year goes. Ohorilko said that in some jurisdictions, they’ve seen an increase of 30%-40% from year three to year four.

“I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect that we’ll see higher numbers this fall and winter than what we saw last year,” Ohorilko told PlayIA in September.

Photo by Charles Krupa / AP
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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