Why Low Sports Betting Handle In New York, Iowa Makes Case For Online Gambling

Posted on December 16, 2019

Iowa‘s and New York‘s sports betting figures for November continued to illustrate how states will be limited without fully open online sports betting.

Iowa has mobile sports betting but requires in-person registration.

Alternatively, New York has no good excuse for neglecting the mobile market and continues to lose business to New Jersey.

In-person registration handcuffs IA handle

Iowa’s sports betting handle hit $59.3 million in November, up 27.6% from October. That growth was largely organic; PointsBet launched mobile toward the end of the month at two casinos, but only contributed $26,000 in handle. Q Casino, which gets its platform from IGT but manages its own mobile sportsbook, also launched last month with nearly $300,000 in handle.

Mobile handle, which grew 29.9% over October to $33.7 million, accounted for just 56.7% of the state total. That’s flat over October and down from September.

Those are relatively low figures for a new and growing market during NFL season, and the betting on pro football that comes with it.

But Iowa doesn’t make signing up easy. Prospective sports bettors must physically visit a retail sportsbook at one of the state’s casinos to complete the registration process. This requirement is in place until 2021.

Iowa’s sports betting report doesn’t specify how many people completed that sign-up process since individual casinos operate sports betting.

It’s easy to see from Rhode Island‘s details; however, that in-person registration keeps handle out of the market. As of Dec. 2, less than half of those that started the registration process completed the in-person registration step.

To be fair, it isn’t just mobile limiting Iowa at this point. Neither DraftKings Sportsbook nor FanDuel Sportsbook, which tend to dominate markets shortly after launching, are live with their mobile sportsbooks.

Delaware tops NY sports betting revenue

New York’s commercial sports betting revenue continues to disappoint without mobile and easily accessible retail books.

Revenue was just $1.3 million in October. For comparison, Delaware had $3 million in revenue, with about 5% of New York’s population.

New York still does not report handle. Delaware, meanwhile, took $16.6 million in bets spread across those books and parlay cards.

October’s handle is disappointing for a state with nearly 20 million people. A generous 10% hold still equals just $13 million in handle.

New York’s lack of mobile sports betting is emphasized by how far residents have to travel to get to the state’s four commercial sportsbooks. The closest is two hours away in the Catskills.

It’s certain that a healthy chunk of the handle New York would get from its mobile bettors contributed to New Jersey’s record-breaking November.

There’s hope that New York could legalize mobile sports betting next year. Gaming regulators tabbed Spectrum Gaming to conduct a gaming market study. The results should prove to all that the state is missing out on much-needed tax revenue without mobile.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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