Iowa Is Latest Proof In-Person Registration Limits Sports Betting Potential

Posted on February 5, 2021
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Written By on February 5, 2021

In-person sports betting registration ended last month in Iowa and it appears bettors were ready for the change.

Sportsbooks accepted $149.5 million in bets last month, which set a new state record by far. Handle jumped 42.7% over the previous record of $104.8 million set in December.

Sports betting revenue also hit a new high last month at $11.3 million for a 7.6% hold. The total topped the previous record of $9.1 million set in October.

The drastic uptick in handle in the IA sports betting market doesn’t come as a surprise, of course. Sports betting in Rhode Island gained additional customers and saw handle and revenue growth after allowing in-person registration last July.

Promos, NFL popularity drive Iowa sports betting in January

There’s no question both operators and bettors were excited for new action last month.

In December, just one casino reported more than $20 million in online sports betting handle. That was Prairie Meadows, which is partnered with William Hill.

In January, there were three casinos with more than $20 million in online handle, according to the state report:

  • Diamond Jo Dubuque led all casinos with $22.7 million through FanDuel Sportsbook.
  • Wild Rose Jefferson, which is partnered with DraftKings Sportsbook and BetRivers, took $21.6 million combined.
  • Prairie Meadows reported $21.6 million through William Hill.

Iowa’s gaming regulator cannot disclose promo amounts by law, but Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko said promotional play “increased substantially” compared to typical levels.

The popularity of NFL betting and the ability to register remotely with new sportsbooks were also factors in driving handle growth, he added.

Some operators waited out in-person registration

Unlike Nevada and Rhode Island, Iowa sports betting legislation had an expiration date of Jan. 1, 2021 for in-person registration.

That hard stop left operators to decide if they wanted to jump into the limited market and build a database, or wait if the economics couldn’t be justified.

There were eight mobile sportsbook operators with in-person registration still live. As of December, there were 10 additional operators looking to enter the market.

The Illinois sports betting market also wasn’t a top priority for many operators because that was supposed to include in-person registration for at least 18 months after the state launched. But the coronavirus pandemic led Gov. JB Pritzker to suspend that requirement a few times, including every month since August.

It’s unclear when, and even if, Illinois will revert back to in-person registration. Penn National likely hopes Pritzker continues to delay it as the casino operator hopes to launch its Barstool Sportsbook app in the state before March Madness.

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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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