Iowa Sports Betting Revenue Crosses $100 Million Milestone In Time For Second Anniversary

Posted By Russ Mitchell on May 7, 2021

Sports betting in Iowa has officially generated $101.1 million in revenue since the first bets were allowed in August 2019, according to the sports wagering report released Friday by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC).

Casinos collected $7,725,272 in revenue from a total of $118,355,535 in sports betting handle in April. The state will get a $521,455 tax boost from last month’s totals.

The IRGC released its monthly report and confirmed crossing the $100 million milestone on May 7. The date happens to fall one day after the two-year anniversary of Gov. Kim Reynolds signing Iowa’s sportsbook legislation into law.

Iowa’s online registration policies and the return of sports have produced surprising results so far in 2021.

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) administrator Brian Ohorilko said in an interview with PlayIA:

“What I’m hearing from most of the operators is: People didn’t expect as big of a jump as what we saw. We saw numbers increase dramatically in January, February and March. I think that was a surprise. And it was a good surprise for most of the operators.”

$100 million: How we got there

Iowa became the 11th state to allow sports wagering in 2019, but global and local factors kept sportsbooks from approaching their current pace:

  • Public health restrictions pulled betting opportunities off the calendar starting in March 2020.
  • Customers had to initially visit an Iowa casino in 2019 and 2020 to verify their ages, identities and to set up accounts. Remote registration wasn’t authorized until Jan. 1, 2021.

You can see sports betting’s momentum before and after online registration became a possibility:

  • FY20 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020)$25,715,017*
  • July 2020 through December 2020 — $35,177,827
  • January — $11,343,303
  • February — $7,708,148
  • March — $13,454,156
  • April — $7,725,272
  • Total — $101,123,723

* The fiscal year began July 1, but the state’s first sports wagers weren’t authorized until Aug. 15, 2019.

Iowa sports betting numbers for April 2021

LicenseeOnline Brand(s)HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleRevenueTaxes (6.75%)
Diamond Jo - DubuqueFanDuel$18,454,617$17,953,321$501,296$1,301,512$87,852
Isle - WaterlooWilliam Hill$17,850,959$17,437,189$413,770$264,996$17,887
Wild Rose - JeffersonDraftKings | BetRivers$15,902,393$15,823,806$78,586$1,155,817$78,018
Prairie MeadowsWilliam Hill$12,581,579$12,030,295$551,283$941,272$63,536
Diamond Jo - WorthBetMGM$10,780,564$8,153,460$2,627,104$861,744$58,168
Wild Rose - ClintonDraftKings | BetRivers$10,239,486$10,115,638$123,848$766,043$51,708
Wild Rose - EmmetsburgDraftKings$8,463,127$8,359,193$103,934$694,847$46,902
AmeristartheScore$5,141,716$1,443,451$3,698,266$428,188$28,903
HorseshoeWilliam Hill$4,484,589$2,531,271$1,953,318$268,958$18,155
Catfish BendPointsBet$3,477,911$3,148,703$329,208$370,601$25,016
Isle - BettendorfWilliam Hill$1,755,684$1,510,824$244,860$171,582$11,582
LakesideWilliam Hill$1,647,673$1,512,978$134,695$131,431$8,872
Rhythm CityElite$1,644,036$1,203,165$440,872$102,616$6,927
RiversideElite$1,560,409$1,203,165$357,244$87,771$5,925
Hard RockHard Rock$1,322,201$640,269$681,932$67,036$4,525
Grand FallsBetfred$1,254,717$475,913$778,804$36,965$2,494
Q CasinoQ Sportsbook$968,354$302,021$666,333$9,947$671
Harrah'sWilliam Hill$825,519$669,688$155,831$63,946$4,316
Total$118,355,535$104,514,350$13,841,185$7,725,272$521,455

Strong April follows record betting month

It’s hard to follow March Madness: April’s $118,355,535 handle fell just over $43 million short of the previous month’s record $161,439,561 amount.

Ohorilko expected the seasonal fluctuation:

“I think it’s reasonable to expect that we will have a dip the rest of this spring and summer. That’s very common in the sports wagering industry, simply due to the fact that customers like to wager on football and NCAA basketball. With those two things being over, there typically is a dip.”

As a regulating agency, the IRGC doesn’t set targets or goals for sportsbook activity.

“One of the things we’ll be monitoring here this summer, is not so much handle in terms of: ‘Will handle go up or down?’ I think most people believe we will see this dip. Really, what will be maybe a little interesting is to see what percentage of handle will be attributed to online. We’ve seen, the last couple of months, a leveling off of right around the mid 80s — so 85, 86 or 87 percent of people are betting from their devices instead of going into a casino. It will be kind of interesting to see if that trend continues.”

Iowa bettors placed 88.3% of their April sports wagering dollars online or through mobile devices.

William Hill remains on top among Iowa sportsbooks

The monthly sportsbook report includes numbers from Iowa’s 19 casinos. Many of those casinos carry more than one sportsbook skin, however. That makes it harder to see how each book is performing in the state.

Here’s what we know from the April totals, which shows William Hill continuing to lead the charge:

  • William Hill: $39.1 million or 33.1% of handle
  • BetRivers/DraftKings: $34.6 million or 29.2% of handle*
  • FanDuel/BetMGM: $29.2 million 24.7% of handle**

*BetRivers and DraftKings both operate under the Wild Rose casinos’ licenses in Iowa.

*FanDuel/BetMGM operate under the Diamond Jo casinos’ licenses.

William Hill is undergoing a nationwide rebranding due to being recently acquired by Caesars Entertainment.

Looking ahead to summer

Ohorilko said sportsbooks made a massive push as remote registration became an option for Iowa bettors. But, he added, “we’re not seeing as much of that right now.”

“I do think things will ramp up again around August and September. Not only will we have the start of football season, but we’re still going through some some licensing with a number of operators. We’ll have more operators in the market. I would expect that will also drive additional marketing and additional promotions. All of that will play into what could possibly be the best fall to date since we started.”

Some of the most dedicated bettors helped boost April’s numbers in the meantime.

Ohorilko said:

“What what we really see this time of year is those grinders — those folks that that are hardcore sports fans. They’ll try to find different opportunities that they like.”

He added:

“One thing that could possibly help a number of the books would be the Olympics, as well … We’re starting to get some wagering requests from the sportsbooks.”

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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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