Iowa sports betting launch headlines week's top news
Legal Sports Report

The Week In Sports Betting: Iowa Launches; West Virginia Still Lags

sports betting news

Hello again, ladies and gents, and welcome back to your regularly scheduled recap of last week’s sports betting news.

There’s not a ton to touch on, so we should be able to keep it brief this week. As always, the LSR Podcast serves as an appropriate audio accompaniment for this recap — listen while you read:

Listen to “LSR Podcast Ep.20 – Iowa Enters the Mix, NFL Partners Up, & Rational Commentary on July NJ Handle” on Spreaker.

No, it’s Iowa sports betting

The list of states with regulated sports betting goes to 11.

Iowa kicked off its new industry on Thursday, barely three months after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the enabling bill into law. In a conversation with LSR, administrator Brian Ohorilko discussed the ways the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission expedited the path from passage to launch.

Eight brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are open for business so far, including two powered by B2B startup Bet.Works. The IA sports betting market will be a competitive one, with each of the 19 casinos allowed to deploy two online skins apiece.

The first of those launched Thursday too, making Iowa the first US market to go live across both channels in tandem. Although William Hill is the only operator that’s online today, at least two others are on the cusp of approval.

Regulators expect the remaining sportsbooks to open within the coming weeks, and most online/mobile options should be live before the end of the year.

The numbers are in

New Jersey and Pennsylvania both filed their July reports last week, and both look impressive in context.

The Garden State is is the star. NJ sports betting operators handled $251.3 million in wagers for the month, a new July record in the US. We don’t have numbers for Nevada yet, but it has never before recorded a July with more than $244.6 million (2018) in handle.

Competition next door, however, could siphon away some of that growth over time.

Sportsbooks in the Commonwealth wrote more than $60 million in tickets themselves last month, setting a new PA record during the dog days of summer. The new PA sports betting market still has plenty of space to fill out, including the anticipated launches of DraftKings Sportsbook and Fox Bet this year.

Newcomer FanDuel Sportsbook is going to be an online end-boss, too. It saw almost as much action through its first nine days of life ($3.3 million) as Parx Sportsbook did for the whole month. It also leads by a mile in New Jersey, responsible for more than half the total revenue among all operators.

Data from both states underscores the criticality of online betting. The internet accounted for about two thirds of the total bets in Pennsylvania and almost 85% in the maturing New Jersey market.

Meanwhile in West Virginia …

More than five months after online sports betting failed in West Virginia, we still don’t have many good answers about it. Speaking with PlayWV this week, the state’s top regulator worked to dispel reports that the WV Lottery is responsible for the delay.

“There is no holdup from the state side,” said John Myers. “The lottery has told [operators] how a mobile system needs to be set up since 2018.”

Myers insists that the timeline for the return of online sports betting in WV is in operators’ hands and could come before football season. Lawmakers like Del. Shawn Fluharty, on the other hand, place the blame squarely at the feet of Myers and his staff.

“I’ve seen little to no interest from state regulators in getting mobile sports betting up and running,” Fluharty said. “They have shown zero urgency.”

Takes and tidbits

As always, we’ll finish up with a few crumbs of news that merit a quick mention. The leftovers happen to be league-centric this week, as governing bodies prepare their organizations for the busy season.

  • OK, NCAA: The NCAA Board of Governors last week voted not to standardize injury reporting, citing concerns over the “purpose” and “effectiveness” of informing the public. Guarding student-athletes from those who seek such information surreptitiously is, apparently, not on the league’s list of valid purposes.
  • NBA betting: The NBA gets it, though. Based on a broad review of policy, the association is considering releasing starting lineups a full hour before tipoff. MLB similarly updated its rules in 2019 to require teams to submit lineups to the league office before releasing them anywhere else.
  • NFL betting: The NFL took a step closer to legal sports betting last week, signing a new partnership with Sportradar. The deal includes the distribution of data for gambling purposes and could facilitate more granular betting options for league partners.
  • Check theScore: Media outlet theScore is officially in the game in New Jersey. Its new online sports betting platform, powered by Bet.Works, made its long-awaited debut last week under the license of Monmouth Park.

That’s it, y’all. Check back for more news throughout the week, follow @LSPReport on Twitter, bet responsibly, drive safely, etc.

Have a happy Monday.

Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.
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