Despite Iowa seeing some promising growth in 2019 and 2020, the public restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic has stifled the growth of the Iowa sports betting industry. Iowa sportsbooks reported a record low for both total wagers and revenue in the month of April.
During the month of April, only 13 Iowa sportsbooks were accepting bets and wagers, while others suspended operations entirely. The state of Iowa reported only $1.6 million in total wagers for the month and earned a meager $150, 000 in revenue.
Sports betting was legalized in mid-August of 2019, which generated their previous all-time low in sports betting handle of $8.6 million. Their previous all-time low for sports betting revenue was set in February at $755, 000.
It was mandated by the state government that all casinos were to close indefinitely on March 17, 2020. However, online and mobile betting was open to continue for many casinos. However with so few professional sports activities, there is significantly less for players to wager on. Handle and revenue is expected to remain low as a result.
On April 28, 2020 Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced the closure of Iowa casinos would be extended until at least May 15. Fortunately, retail sports betting revenues are a fraction of online and mobile sports betting revenues.
With few sports available for consumption at the moment, online sportsbooks and revenues have been hurt by a distinct lack of new registrants. Due to the state of Iowa forcing sports betting registrants to sign up for a mobile account via a retail betting outlet first, the access is not there for new players.
The month of May is a significant time for the sports betting industry as all four major sports leagues in the United States would be operating at this time – the NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS. Their play has been suspended indefinitely, although each league office is working to resume play as soon as possible.
On the other hand, other sports leagues around the world have already returned to behind-closed-doors play such as the UFC and the Belarusian Premier League. While this is a small consolation for the sports betting industry, it will not return to normal levels until the top leagues resume play once again.
The widespread economic downturn due to COVID-19 continues to affect all industries, not just sports betting. Unemployment is skyrocketing across nations and the return of sports doesn’t guarantee a player will want to invest as liberally into their wagers.
Given that a player is at least 19 years of age, betting is legal at any of Iowa’s casinos or websites. In order to play online, a bettor must register physically at a retail outlet.
There are currently 23 casinos in the state of Iowa, 19 of those offer sportsbooks. Four of those casinos are classified as Native American, while one is considered Riverboat.
The most popular sport in Iowa is college football. There are four Iowa-based college football teams in the NCAA Division I – the Drake Bulldogs, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, and Northern Iowa Panthers.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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