Casinos across the state of Iowa began offering legal sports betting as of August 15th. The early numbers are in and things got off to a bright start despite the low percentage of online wagers. Iowa sports betting took in $2.2 million in revenue with 43% of wagers coming from online/mobile. The reason for that low total is due to the age verification process.
The age-verification process in not available online until January 1st 2021. Until then, bettors need to present themselves to a physical location in order to prove that they are at least 21 years old. With states like New Jersey reporting 85% of their wagers coming in the form of online bets, Iowa should not be too concerned with their slow start in that regard. Iowa Casinos Will Benefit From Sports Traffic
Casinos across the state are hoping the additional foot traffic from sports betting spills over into other areas of their respective establishments. Early numbers seem to indicate that the slowdown in casino admissions were helped by Iowa sports betting. From January to July, casino admissions were down 4.6%. In the month of August that number fell to 0.17%.
A Closer Look at The Numbers
The top two casinos in the state in terms of retail handle are:
1. Prairie Meadows: $3.4 million
2. Ameristar II: $1.3 million
William Hill's Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino was helped by offering both in-person and online options. While their total handle was $3.41 million, their total payout was approximately $2.88 million. Considering Ameristar II only offered in-person betting, they should be optimistic about their numbers.
In terms of overall outlook for the state, Iowa sports betting generated $8.6 million in total handle. There was also $146,000 in taxes collected by the state for the month. At only 7.5%, Iowa rivals Nevada in terms of the lowest rates in the country. Those earnings would be even higher if not for a few casinos getting off to a late start.
Catfish Bend, Horseshoe Council Bluff and Harrah's Council Bluffs opened eight days (Aug. 23rd) after eligibility. Q Casino's sports book opened even later on August 27th. With the start of the NFL regular season in September coupled with a full month of revenue opportunity, the outlook for Iowa sports betting looks great.
There Will Be More Competition in Iowa Soon
Both FanDuel and DraftKings are set to launch online/mobile options in Iowa shortly with their respective casino partners. That's music to any gambler's ears as options are the name of the game when it comes to sports betting. The expected growth won't be immediate due but is sure to come. Out of thirteen casinos, only seven offer online/mobile options so there is still so much more room for growth.
Before signing the bill into law, Gov. Kim Reynolds had her reservations about Iowa sports betting and the regulatory oversight it would require. One look at these numbers and whatever worries she had must be a distant memory.
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