Hinting at the possibility in November, Iowa continued sports betting fever momentum into December by passing the $100 million mark for the first time in total handle within a single month.
The actual figure for sports wagering handle in December was $104.8 million, reflecting an impressive 20.2% jump from the previous month’s handle of $87.17 million. The record marked the fourth consecutive month that Iowa set a handle record for sports wagering.
As expected, the majority of the month’s take was accumulated from online wagering at $78.1 million, reflecting about 74.5% of the total according to numbers from the Iowa Racing Gaming Commission. It marked a 25.1% increase over November’s figure of $62.4 million. There are multiple opportunities for Iowa bettors as of 18 casinos offering sports wagering, 17 allow mobile wagering.
Tempering some of the enthusiasm however was that bettors fared a bit better in December than the previous months in terms of revenue. During the month, all books in Iowa combined for a win rate (revenue) of 7.19%, below larger than average numbers achieved in October (11.11%) and in November (9.34%).
Sportsbook operators generated over $7.5 million in revenue, accounting for the third-highest monthly total reported by the IRGC. Most satisfying for Iowa, the state added $508,748 in tax funding. In total for 2020, the state operators accumulated $41.6 million, providing $2.86 in tax contribution for Iowa.
Of all sportsbooks in Iowa the most active in December was Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino with over $22 million handle in wagering, and of that over $20 million in online sports betting.
Following that location was top sportsbook operator FanDuel, increasing monthly figures at Diamond Jo Worth and Dubuque sportsbooks. Diamond Jo Worth had a total handle for December of $10.9m, increasing from November’s $8.8m. Dubuque stood at $9.6m for the month, a major increase from November’s handle of $6.6m.
It seemed inevitable that Iowa would surpass the $100 million-dollar monthly mark. The fact it came earlier than expected was the more notable cause for celebration.
December marked the final month that state legislation mandated that bettors had to register in-person onsite at a sportsbook for a new account to gain the opportunity to wager online. A major disadvantage since many in Iowa must travel a considerable distance to get to a retail casino location. The upside being with more convenience, achieving nine-figure handles could be expected in all months moving forward in 2021.
As it aided other US states showing strong support from local sports teams, Iowa benefitted during December. Both state universities’ strong late-season drive in football created extra betting interest.
The Iowa State Cyclones played in the Big 12 championship game, won the Fiesta Bowl over Oregon 34-17, and are currently ranked #10 in the NCAA Top 25 College Football poll. The popular Iowa Hawkeyes finished the regular season 6-2 but unfortunately had their Music City Bowl appearance canceled due to COVID-19.
Both universities also have high-ranked NCAA basketball teams that could make the March Madness NCAA Tournament. Another factor that should help Iowa sportsbooks carry momentum into the following months.
Iowa, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, includes many competitive sportsbooks into the mix, which seems to provide favorable total results for the state. Among the most notable operators offering online wagering include DraftKings Sportsbook, PointsBet, William Hill US, BetRivers, and BetMGM.
January is expected to be another record-breaking $100 month for sports betting in the state with the NFL postseason and college football bowl games driving the action. The NBA, NHL, and European soccer seasons will also be a factor. Most notable, as of January 1, in-person registration at casinos will no longer be required for players to use online sportsbooks.
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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]
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