The First Iowa Sports Betting Numbers Are Out: What We Learned

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Iowa sports betting

Iowa casinos are already reaping the benefits of their newly regulated sports betting operations.

Bettors wagered more than $8.5 million through the 17 days of action, with the bulk of that tied to local college sports. That early appetite yielded a win of almost $2.2 million for the books, though the inclusion of futures wagers skews that supposed hold.

The numbers come from the first-ever monthly sports betting report published Friday by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Our sports betting revenue page tracks data across all active US markets.

Iowa sports betting by the numbers

Here’s how those numbers break down by casino, with 13 retail sportsbooks open for business:

Ameristar$ 1,364,723$ 480,650
Catfish Bend$ 142,746$ 43,603
Diamond Jo – Worth$ 140,953$ 94,179
Grand Falls$ 66,349$ 22,066
Harrah’s$ 199,476$ 89,653
Horseshoe$ 441,273$ 192,777
Isle – Bettendorf$ 645,040$ 151,899
Isle – Waterloo$ 916,349$ 158,694
Lakeside$ 282,054$ 63,677
Prairie Meadows$ 3,411,885$ 532,771
Q Casino$ 120,609$ 70,779
Rhythm City$ 350,442$ 99,643
Riverside$ 494,347$ 161,297

Betting on sports all across Iowa

Much of that money is being wagered from outside of the casinos. Those monitoring sports betting in the US — and worldwide, for that matter — understand how critical the internet has become to the industry in 2019.

Policymakers in Iowa were certainly paying attention.

The Hawkeye State was the first to launch online betting alongside retail sportsbooks on Day One, with the former eventually expected to dwarf the latter. Coupled with provisions for multiple skins and a friendly 6.75% tax rate, the Iowa sports betting law is among the best in the country.

Two companies operate online sportsbooks in Iowa today, powering mobile operations for seven of the 19 commercial casinos. Through their first half-month of action, William Hill and Elite sportsbooks combined to win $424,129 from internet bettors statewide.

Will Hill is well-established in nearly every US market, while Elite is a total newcomer operating on the Bet.Works platform.

Online betting represents less than half of the total handle in Iowa to date, but the balance should grow lopsided as time goes on. In the maturing New Jersey market, the internet accounted for 85% of all wagers in August.

Online market still spooling up

That online shift may not happen as quickly as it should, though.

Whereas NJ online sports betting is entirely remote, Iowa regulations require bettors to initially register in-person at a brick-and-mortar casino. Though small, that extra hurdle will mitigate the early growth rate to some extent.

Competition is the only thing lacking for now, but regulators expect to issue more approvals late this month. DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook are among the operators licensed and pending launch in Iowa.

Sportsbooks boost Iowa casino traffic

Ignoring sports, it’s also worth mentioning that Iowa casino revenue bulged a bit in August. Table game revenue grew more than 10% in year-over-year comparisons, while slot win increased almost 5%.

That cross-sell is the key takeaway for IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko, so far.

“Early indications demonstrate that there has been significant spillover into the facilities with regard to their gambling revenue,” Ohorilko told LSR. “We’re seeing substantial increases in both admissions and other forms of gaming.”

Beyond that, the state’s top regulator cautioned not to look too deeply into the early numbers.