The Evolution Of Iowa’s Legal Betting Takes Another Step in 2021

The Evolution Of Iowa’s Legal Betting Takes Another Step in 2021
Man studies gambling guide. Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP

Like most states that currently have a legal sports betting platform, Iowa is in the midst of some incredible growth as we head into 2021. Iowa was part of a long list of participating states that regularly set records with regard to their monthly sports betting handles after the COVID-forced shutdowns of not only casinos by pro sports in general.

However, with the turning of the calendar and a new year comes the opportunity for the state to grow even more and to continue to set new standards for its sports betting scene. Gone is the cumbersome and sometimes difficult in-person only sign-up requirement for mobile betting that dated back to the launch of legal betting in the state in August, 2019 and in is a new commitment and client-focus by Iowa’s betting provider-Heavyweights.

In-Person Makes Way for Remote Registration

As of January 1, Iowa‘s antiquated and limiting in-person sign-up rule for the right to place a legal sports bet from the comfort of your home finally became a thing of the past. Iowa residents, that had been forced to visit a brick-and-mortar casino to sign up for mobile apps since legal sports betting went live in August are finally afforded the opportunity for a remote sign-up option.

Remote sign-up will give bettors the chance to limit travel to sometimes out-of-the-way brick-and-mortar facilities while at the same time giving those same bettors a chance to try a variety of different provider-options if they so desired.

In-person only sign-up requirements have been proven as a detriment to states that have adopted such plans. We need not look further than the state of Nevada that has a similar requirement, and is generating about 55% of their monthly handles from their mobile platforms.

New Jersey, by contrast reported $872 million or 93.6% of the insane $931,620,415 November handle coming from internet betting, thanks to a robust platform and an ultra-easy remote sign-up option.

Expansion of the Iowa Scene

With the relaxation of the mobile sign-up rules in Iowa comes news that the current betting providers and perhaps some new names will ramp up their games, including William Hill which has promised “a seamless betting experience that makes it easy and quick to find your favorite markets, and to make and track one’s bets”.

Iowa instantly becomes a more attractive market for prospective betting providers – a fact not lost on those in charge of regulating the Hawkeye State platform.

“We are processing license applications or are aware of applications that appear to be imminent for up to an additional ten new online sports companies,” Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko said. “It is more likely than not that our market will look very different by summer once this new wave of applications subsides.”

Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers online sportsbook has already launched since the changing of the rules and 888 has announced its intentions of going live in Iowa.

What it All Means

Remote sign-up ability for residents of Iowa means the platform instantly becomes more accessible to a higher percentage of the public 21 years and older – especially important during this time of COVID-surges. In turn, the platform itself should see a spike in not only the gambling dollars being spent but also the number of users placing bets in the state. Anyone within state lines can now register, deposit and bet from their homes or anywhere with internet access.

New competition in the legal sports betting space will also be a result of the state changing its sign-up laws. Obviously more competition will lead to more bettors and more bettors will lead to more revenue generating opportunities in Iowa, and likely record-handles continuing to be the norm.

Iowa’s Gain

Despite Iowa’s relatively small population, the state has consistently ranked inside the top 10 most bet-friendly in the US. Remote mobile registration could reasonably see the state jump a spot or two. Iowa generated $87 million in handle in November 2020 and has a total yearly handle-figure of $470 with December’s report still outstanding.

With physical casinos threatening to shut down once again like those in nearby Michigan and Pennsylvania, mobile registration will be the only way that new customers to the state’s legal sports betting platform can be generated. In-person only registration in a state with no casinos open effectively shuts down the prospect of new customers.

The evolution of the Iowa legal sports betting scene is almost complete. A few more months and a few more providers will lead to a “mature market” that will keep topping up state and local tax coffers. While small, Iowa could become a model for other bigger states with legal sports betting platforms. They admitted mistakes, moved quickly to fix them, and ultimately worked for the benefit of all involved in the legal sports betting industry in their jurisdiction.