Iowa Posts Highest Sports Betting Handle in January As In-Person Requirement Ends

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Iowa sports betting has posted a record-shattering handle in January, which was the first month with no in-person registration requirement. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission released the monthly figures on Friday, according to which sportsbooks took $149.5 million worth of bets last month, representing a 42.7% month-over-month increase.

The comparison between $104.8 million and $149.5 million that Iowa sports betting handle recorded in December 2020 and January 2021, respectively, reiterates the significance of mobile betting registration. It also asserts the generally held belief that the in-person requirement holds back sports betting potential. The year-over-year increase (157%) is even more astonishing as the state saw $58 million in January 2020. January was also the fifth consecutive month that Iowa posted a record for sports betting and the second consecutive month that the state’s sportsbooks took more than $100 million in wagers.

Following the end of the in-person registration requirement that Iowa residents welcomed in the new year, the state has also set records in monthly sports betting revenue. According to the report, Iowa sportsbooks generated a revenue of more than $11.3 million, good for 7.6% hold. January’s revenue record eclipses the record of $9.1 million posted in October. It was also a decent increase of 50.5% from December’s $7.5 million and a 250.7% increase from what Iowa sportsbooks saw during the same period last year ($3.2 million).

Mobile Market Pervades

The drastic increase in handle in the Hawkeye State’s sports betting market was not unexpected. Sports betting in other states like Rhode Island saw increased activity after allowing mobile registration last July. Illinois sports betting also witnessed the same since Gov. J.B. Pritzker suspended the in-person registration requirement for new bettors in June last year.

The swelling handle and revenue are also expected to see similar trends in Iowa, with in-person registration ending from January 1 and new digital sportsbook apps launching in the market. BetMGM, William Hill, PointsBet, and BetRivers were among the recent entrants to go live with remote registration in place.

As expected, the lion’s share of the handle came from online bets last month as mobile betting handle swelled to $120.76 million, representing a 54.7% increase from December’s $78 million and 257% higher than January 2020’s $33.8 million. Overall, online sports betting handle was nearly 81% of the total handle Iowa recorded in January.

Operator-by-Operator Performance

FanDuel sportsbook took $35.1 million in bets last month at its Dubuque and Diamond Jo Worth sportsbooks, with Dubuque eclipsing Prairie Meadows as the Hawkeye State’s leading operator with $23.8 million. The combined Diamond Jo sportsbooks represented a rise of 71.2% over the combined $20.5 million in December. The total handle of Worth was $11.4 million in January, up from December’s $10.9 million. However, Dubuque’s January handle was a whopping gain over December’s $9.6 million.

William Hill sportsbook at Prairie Meadows Casino had the second-highest handle last month with $23.1 million, performing slightly better than December ($22.5 million). DraftKings at Wild Rose in Jefferson saw nearly $22 million in January, up 69% from December’s $13 million. Additionally, Wild Rose in Clinton and Isle Casino in Waterloo also crossed $10 million in January handle.

Of the 18 state casinos that allow sports betting, 17 have mobile sports betting.

How Have We Reached Here?

The in-person registration provision to allow mobile sports betting was part of the bill Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into legalizing sports betting in 2019. However, it had an expiration date of January 1, 2021. With the mobile registration requirement entering the market, more digital sportsbooks sought to launch in the Hawkeye State. By December, there were ten additional sportsbook operators eying the market.

With January’s handle almost tripling August’s handle of $50.3 million, Iowa sports betting suggests a remarkable growth. These numbers also put the Hawkeye State in line to be the seventh US state to top $1 billion in the cumulative handle by next month as January’s figures raised to the number to almost $937 million since Iowa launched sports betting in August 2019.

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