Iowa Sports Betting Handle A Shadow Of Its Former Self

Posted on June 15, 2020

Iowa’s sports betting handle in May saw a drastic improvement compared with April. However, for the state’s legal sportsbooks, it was the lowest bar possible to clear.

Handle from online and retail sportsbooks in Iowa for the month of May was over four times the same figure in April. Compared with handle for nearly every other month since August 2019, however, it’s a significant decline.

Breaking down the numbers

Altogether, bettors in Iowa wagered more than $6.97 million in May. All but $20 of that total came from sports betting apps in the state.

The breakdown, by operator, is as follows:

SportsbookOnline handleRetail handleTotal handle
Prairie Meadows (William Hill)$2,697,551.01 $0$2,697,551.01
Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo (William Hill)$971,192.45$0$971,192.45
Wild Rose - Jefferson (DraftKings)$800,785.67$0$800,785.67
Riverside Casino and Golf Resort (Elite)$747,403.20$0$747,403.20
Q Casino (Q Sportsbook)$510,317.19$0$510,317.19
Lakeside Casino (William Hill)$341,463.01$0$341,463.01
Isle of Capri Bettendorf (William Hill)$325,612.48$0$325,612.48
Catfish Bend Casino (PointsBet)$147,893.50$0$147,893.50
Wild Rose - Clinton (DraftKings)$105,114.73$0$105,114.73
Wild Rose - Emmetsburg (DraftKings)$102,875.25$0$102,875.25
Rhythm City Casino (Elite)$78,256.91$0$78,256.91
Hard Rock Casino (Hard Rock Sportsbook)$75,349.76$0$75,349.76
Grand Falls Casino Resort (Elite)$72,802.06$0$72,802.06
Ameristar II$0$20$20
Casino Queen - Marquette$0$0$0
Diamond Jo - Dubuque$0$0$0
Diamond Jo - Worth$0$0$0
Harrah's Council Bluffs$0$0$0
Horseshoe Council Bluffs$0$0$0
Totals$6,976,617.22$20$6,976,637.22

In April, handle totaled a mere $1.56 million. The month-over-month increase is due to the growing popularity of international sports, including Korean baseball and Ukrainian table tennis, and the return of NASCAR.

Wins for IA sports betting apps totaled $501,062.16 in May. Sportsbooks collectively paid just over $32,000 in taxes for the month. Iowa has a national-low tax rate of just 6.75%.

In terms of handle, May is the second worst month for IA sportsbooks ever. For comparison, the same operators took in over $19.57 million in March.

The good news is that gaming in the state can seemingly only improve from here.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the reopening of businesses, including casinos, on May 28.

Help could be on the way

The return of North American team sports should also help, provided that actually takes place.

MLS and the National Women’s Soccer League have both announced league-wide tournaments for late June and early July. Additionally, the NHL has announced a return-to-play plan for concluding its 2019-20 season, although official dates remain undetermined.

Like the NHL, the NBA has made some details public on a format to conclude its season. That still depends on several contingencies at this point, such as players agreeing to the structure.

MLB may yet play this summer as well, as starting the 2020 season seems to now be in the hands of franchise owners. It’s still uncertain whether players will opt out of the season and that could greatly affect odds.

Regardless, if all these events do take place, the menu of domestic sporting events to wager upon in IA could grow considerably over the next few weeks.

Open doors at casinos a crucial piece of the puzzle

There’s another component that could make June’s numbers look better.

Until Jan. 1, sports bettors in Iowa must register in person for their online sports betting accounts. The reopening of casinos around the state lends itself to that end greatly.

While those facilities were closed, only bettors who had already registered prior to the shutdown could bet online. Now that Iowa casinos and retail books are open again, IA citizens and visitors can resume signing up for sports betting apps.

If Iowa’s casinos remained closed while North American team sports returned, it would limit the potential for handle across the state to rebound. That, in turn, should again expose the folly of in-person registration requirements.

For Iowa sportsbook operators, those sports can’t take their fields soon enough. May’s handle suggests that if there are events to wager upon, bettors in IA stand ready to do so.

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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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