Iowa Joins Trend Ending In-Person Sports Betting Registration

Iowa Ending In-Person Sports Betting

  • Record results in January have proven to Iowa in-person registration is unnecessary
  • As expected, online wagering has been dominant and is expected to grow higher in 2021
  • Other US states likely will take notice in-person registration is illogical & suspend policy

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Soon all US states will get the message that in-person registration involving new accounts for sports wagering is entirely unnecessary and illogical. Certainly, we can add January results from Iowa to the unanimous case.

The total sports wagering handle in January was $149.5 million, up 42.7% from December’s $104.8 million and reflected a giant 157% increase from January 2020 of $58 million. Both figures combined for the highest totals and a record month. This was the fifth consecutive month that Iowa set a handle record for sports wagering and the second straight month that Iowa bettors topped the $100 million figure for the total handle.

Just as important, sports betting revenue also achieved a new high in January of $11.3 million for a 7.6%, above anticipated and forecasted numbers. The total topped the previous record of $9.1 million set in October 2020.

According to the Iowa state report in January three casinos had more than $20 million in the online handle. Diamond Jo Dubuque led the way with $22.7m through FanDuel. Wild Rose Jefferson partnering with DraftKings Sportsbook and BetRivers accounted for $21.6m combined. And Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Sportsbook had $21.6m partnering with William Hill.

Brian Ohorilko, the state’s director of gaming, told Iowa’s News Now, the goal of in-person registration was to increase foot traffic at casinos. He added:

Many of the casinos did see a bump in their non-sports wagering revenue in the fall of 2019, when sports wagering started. But then after customers went into the casino to register that one time, then many of them really had conducted most of their sports wagering business via their mobile app.

Like all other US states, the second half of the year accounted for the largest portion of the handle due to restrictions being lifted and major sports coming back on board. From July through December, Iowans wagered nearly $420 million. More than 70% of that figure was generated through online wagering.

Ohorilko expects that trend to continue in upcoming months and commented:

The number of companies that are interested in offering online sports gambling has increased and will likely double within the next three to four months. There is significant competition for customers and many of these companies are marketing very, very heavily right now.

Somewhat dissimilar to other states, sports wagering makes up for a small portion of wagering compared to casino wagering. Ohorilko noted the differences in explaining the higher result percentages:

“In a traditional casino environment, sports betting would make anywhere from 2% to 5%of the overall revenue that a casino would make. In Iowa, it is taxed rated 6.75%, so, the casinos will pay that money to the state. Online sports companies have an agreement as a prerequisite to getting licensed. In other words, there must be some sort of agreement and those agreements are typically a revenue share or maybe a one-time access fee. So, they do work together to make sure that they’re both successful and part of that is because of the way the legislation was set up here in the state.

Other US States Should Take Notice

It would be difficult for other US states to not notice of the huge results from Iowa abandoning their restriction upon new account registration to be done in-person.

The overwhelming trend toward online wagering is being driven by COVID-19 and timing during the colder Winter months restricting travel and preference by bettors to not leave their homes. In a few US states (like Iowa), gamblers are asked to travel additional miles to reach retail casino facilities to register.

The proof was pushed in Iowa, which within their sports betting legislation had an expiration date of January 1, 2021, for in-person registration. Other states like Nevada and Rhode Island have kept the issue open. In nearby Illinois, a similar circumstance took place, where Gov. J.B. Pritzker suspended the in-person requirement twice during late 2020.

With these new record results in Iowa, it would be difficult to envision new US states drawing up their bylaws for sports betting registration mandating in-person registration.

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Larry Gibbs

Expert on Sports Betting Industry

Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.

Email: [email protected]