Iowa Sportsbooks See New All-Time High In Total Wagers In October

Written By Russ Mitchell on November 4, 2021 - Last Updated on July 22, 2022
iowa october 2021 handle

For the second consecutive month, the state’s sportsbook operators reported a record-shattering handle to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC).

The total amount of bets for October reached $280,899,986, according to numbers released on Thursday. The previous single-month record was the $210,434,586 handle in September.

The IRGC staff gathers and audits sports betting amounts each month from the 19 casinos in Iowa. October’s handle is a 33.5% increase from September’s record amount.

Football drives huge October handle

The Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones picked up top 10 wins in October. That helped Sportsbooks in Iowa pick up the record-setting win, too. The betting month included No. 3 Iowa’s 23-20 win over No. 4 Penn State on Oct. 9. The Hawkeyes moved to No. 2 in the Associated Press poll after the win. They remain a top 25 team.

Not to be outdone, Iowa State picked up a 24-21 win over No. 8 Oklahoma State two weeks later in Ames. Both teams are near the top of the conference standings as they work toward bowl destinations.

IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko said college and professional football continues to be a strong market in Iowa:

“We’re also seeing a bump with the World Series games and the playoffs leading up to the World Series. And we’re heading into basketball season as well. A number of operators are cautiously optimistic that we’ll continue to see strong numbers throughout the remainder of the fall, and into the winter.”

Companies watch revenue as well as October handle

Iowa casinos reported $6,556,218 in sports wagering net receipts in October, an increase of 14.7% from $5,716,038 in September.

The state collected $514,642 in tax revenue for the month.

Here are the complete numbers from Iowa sportsbooks in October:

LicenseeOnline Brand(s)HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleRevenueTaxes (6.75%)
Isle BettendorfCaesars$47,327,719$46,890,368$437,351-$292,937-$7,005
Diamond Jo DubuqueFanDuel | Betway$39,391,794$38,262,531$1,129,263$2,222,326$150,007
Wild Rose JeffersonDraftKings | BetRivers$35,409,934$35,198,559$211,375$691,215$46,657
Prairie MeadowsCaesars$32,858,216$30,833,471$2,024,745-$708,065$0
Wild Rose ClintonDraftKings | BetRivers$26,341,167$26,072,067$269,100$272,614$18,401
Diamond Jo WorthBetMGM$25,459,784$18,266,674$7,193,110$1,192,769$80,512
Wild Rose EmmetsburgDraftKings$19,409,437$19,133,885$275,552$440,268$29,718
Horseshoe Council BluffsCaesars$10,668,756$5,910,365$4,758,391$481,123$32,476
Ameristar Council BluffstheScore Bet$9,153,323$2,081,558$7,071,765$955,304$64,483
Catfish BendPointsBet$6,425,481$5,988,039$437,442$443,228$29,918
Isle WaterlooCaesars$5,779,119$5,157,723$621,396-$151,793$0
Harrah's Council BluffsCaesars | Unibet$4,321,414$3,845,246$476,168-$16,843$0
Grand FallsBetfred | Bally Bet$3,810,855$2,071,137$1,739,718$262,302$17,705
Hard RockHard Rock$2,442,483$1,218,385$1,224,098$187,963$12,688
Rhythm CityElite$1,686,918$800,128$886,790$155,979$10,529
Q CasinoQ Sportsbook$1,005,730$330,849$674,881$97,437$6,577
Casino Queen MarquetteFubo$71,350$21,589$49,761-$2,251$0

Iowa sports online betting numbers for October 2021

Caesars in Iowa continues to be the industry leader in Iowa. The book stayed on top with $96,991,822 in online handle. FanDuel was the leader in revenue with $2,076,128. Most Iowa sports bettors are placing bets online, as internet betting accounted for 89% of October wagers.

Here’s how the books rank by total online sports betting handle in Iowa for the month of October:

  • Caesars: $96,991,822
  • DraftKings: $76,391,710
  • FanDuel: $38,145,187
  • BetMGM: $18,266,674
  • PointsBet: $5,988,039
  • BetRivers: $3,748,038
  • Elite: $3,317,017
  • theScore Bet: $2,081,558
  • Betfred: $1,419,640
  • Hard Rock: $1,218,384
  • Unibet $957,599
  • Bally Bet: $651,498
  • Q: $330,849
  • Circa: $264,761
  • Fubo: $21,589

Ohorilko said high levels of marketing and promotional play fueled a big surge in handle from August to September. But the free play offers do cut into a sports betting operator’s revenue.

“We’re still in a very competitive market. And the operators are competing heavily for customers to participate in their apps. That increased promotional play level is also driving revenue. We’re continuing to see some of the newer operators launch. That competitive level of marketing should be something that we’ll continue to see the rest of the fall into the winter as well.”

Big discounts from new arrivals are a factor

Betway Sportsbook went live at the start of the month through a partnership with the Diamond Jo Dubuque. Less than a week later, Circa Sports, one of the biggest sportsbooks in Las Vegas, debuted through an agreement with Wild Rose Jefferson.

In the first few days of November, Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs helped the Barstool Sportsbook debut in Iowa. One day later, Fubo Sportsbook told Iowa customers it was ready with a full launch.

“Due to some of the high levels of promotional play being issued, we actually saw receipts decline from August into September. That is something that we’re continuing to look at. There isn’t necessarily a correlation between handle and revenue. And that’s been the case in any month.”

17 sportsbooks in Iowa — so far

The sign-up offers for new sports betting customers that help increase monthly handle aren’t going away any time soon.

Some sportsbooks have made their US debut in Iowa, but others are working on other states first, according to the IRGC administrator:

“It’s not typically a question as to if they’ll go live. If there’s an agreement in place and the application is on file, we do expect these companies will finish up the licensing process. It’s usually a question of when.”

With remote registration and full sports schedules, each set of monthly numbers have been surprising at the IRGC office:

“We have to keep in mind that we really have not had a normal year since sports betting has launched in this state. It really is important for us to continue to monitor revenue and monitor player behavior and compliance from the operators as we are heading into these next months. … The rest of this fall and winter will be a better indication of what we’ll expect long term in this state in all aspects of this industry: Revenue, compliance and player behavior.”

Photo by Kathleen Batten / AP
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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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