The legal sports betting world was set up for success in September with the start of the NFL season, the MLB stretch drive, playoff action in both the NBA and the NHL, the Kentucky Derby and the US Open Golf Tournament. Numbers have been trickling in from participating states and reveal that the success may be even greater than most analysts had thought.
The latest state to report a September surge is Iowa despite not having a team in any of the Major Sports Leagues across America. Iowa’s record sports betting figures fit the widespread narrative that the US legal sports betting industry may have officially shrugged off months of COVID-related issues and is back on its explosive path.
“You had all six major sports leagues playing games all in one day and that’s never been the case,” said Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business for the Gambling.com Group, a marketing company in the sports betting industry.
He went on to add that, “It’s been kind of a perfect storm in terms of what people have to wager on, what games are being played — there’s just a large buffet of games that you’re able to wager on at different times of day and different types of sports so it really lends itself very positively to the Iowa sports betting market”.
Overall, Iowa took in an impressive $72,397,241 from its 18 active sportsbooks in September which represents a 44% increase over the total achieved in August. From that, sportsbooks were able to report $5,167,819.41 in profits which in turn resulted in $348,827.61 in much-needed and much-appreciated state tax revenue.
Of the $72 million handle, roughly $50 million or about 69% of the total was attributed to Iowa’s mobile betting platform. That leaves the other $22.4 million that came from the retail side of the sports betting business.
The first fiscal quarter came to an end in Iowa when the calendar turned to October, giving us a sense of how the state did during the time it came out of COVID. The betting total for the three months ending September 30 was $145.6 million with $10.4 million in revenue and about $700,000 in tax revenue for state and local coffers – not bad but not terrible either.
Iowa’s Next Few Months
Along with most bet-friendly states, Iowa is expecting an even bigger number for the month of September. The NFL is slated to be a huge driver of the September handle as is the return of Big Ten football – a major obsession in the state of Iowa.
“There’s no question that people are wagering on college and professional football at a higher clip than what they were at this time last year,” according to Brian Ohorilko, administrator for the state Racing & Gaming Commission. Football is going to have to be a major driver for the sports betting industry from the next few months – basketball is over until the new year, hockey is as well and baseball has just four teams left as of today.
A Big Change Is Coming
Perhaps the biggest thing to look forward to with regards to sports betting in Iowa is the change in how people sign up for mobile apps. Right now, potential bettors are expected to sign up in-person at a brick-and-mortar facility – a seemingly antiquated policy that brought in Zero bettors during COVID lockdowns. That rule ends January 1.
We have seen that states with similar approaches to mobile sign-ups are falling behind states that allow for remote sign-ups. Nevada is perhaps the best example of this. Despite being a top-two bet-friendly state in America, they have fallen behind New Jersey, mostly due to the fact that the Silver State has no remote sign-up.
Mobile apps are responsible for just 65% of Nevada’s monthly handles while New Jersey’s mobile platform contributes north of 90%. According to the American Gaming Association, mobile is responsible for about 80% of the bets taken in nationally on any given month – far ahead of what Iowa has been able to accomplish so far.
With retail betting is seemingly trending in the right direction and with mobile betting picking up steam, Iowa seems to be on a pretty good path toward overall legal sports betting success. January 1 represents a big day for the platform – when bettors will be able to sign up for mobile betting remotely.
Until then, the little state will continue to punch above its weight and keep sports betting a valuable tax-generating industry.