Last December brought a new sports betting handle record for Iowa, which posted above $100 for the first time since the industry’s launch. According to the latest figures released Friday by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC), the December handle of $104.8 million also saw the fourth consecutive month of record handle in the Hawkeye State since it went live in August 2019. This reflects a 20.2% increase from the previous monthly record of $87.17 million and a 76.7% increase year on year.

However, despite posting a record handle, Iowa sportsbook operators generated $7.5 million in revenue in December, which is down from November’s $8.1 million. From this, the state generated $508,747 in tax revenue from the overall monthly activity from regulated sports betting.

The same report also revealed an unprecedented mobile sports betting handle of almost $78.1 million, or 74.5% of the total handle. Going hand in hand with this, mobile sports betting also made up the most of revenue by generating $4.6 million, while brick and mortar facilities drew nearly $2.9 million in revenue. December’s mobile betting handle alone would boast as the Hawkeye State’s fourth-highest monthly record ever.

Breakdown By Operator

A further breakdown reveals William Hill’s leading role in this December’s figures, whose sportsbook at Penn National Gaming’s Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino generated $1.7 million revenue from $22.5 million in sports wagers. Of this, $1.5 million was generated through mobile operations and $159,632 via land-based sportsbooks.

The second position in terms of revenue was claimed by the Ameristar II Casino that managed to generate $771,345 from the proceeds of $5.8 million in sports betting handle through its land-based-only betting. This is the only casino in Iowa that does not provide mobile sports betting as part of its offerings. Of the 18 Iowa casinos that allow sports wagering, 17 have mobile sports betting.

Coming in at third and in collaboration with FanDuel was Diamond Jo Casino in Worth, which processed $10.9 million in sports wagers to generate $751,010 revenue. The mobile sportsbook made up $599,252 of the operator’s overall revenue from $6.3 million in online bets. Finally, fourth place was captured by the DraftKings & Wild Rose Casino Jefferson collaboration, which processed $13 million in bets and generated $696,934.

What Led to Fall in Revenue?

Despite the record-setting handle for Iowa, revenue continued to fall for the second month running as November’s figures also echoed this trend. In November, sportsbook operators across the US reported unusually higher humps in hold due to favorable NFL outcomes. The book’s win rate in November was 9.34%, higher than December’s 7.19%, and so the revenue drop in Iowa for December was not unexpected.

Still, operators had a great month in December, whose $7.5 million in revenue was the third-highest monthly total ever recorded by the IRGC as it was up 159.5% from December 2019’s $2.9 million. Iowa sportsbooks had a cumulative handle of over $575 million in 2020, generating more than $41.6 million in revenue and almost $2.86 million in taxes for the state. So, despite the slightly “backwards” figures, it is clear the industry is still thriving.

Monthly Handle Records Show No Signs of Abatement!

There are several reasons to believe sports betting handles are likely to show upward trends in 2021. One of the major reasons is the entrance of the new mobile sportsbook app in the market. William Hill, BetRivers, BetMGM, and PointsBet are among the new mobile sports betting apps to land in Iowa. With more options available to residents, we can expect a greater number of signups with bettors hoping to capitalize on the welcome offers up for grabs.

However, the biggest single reason that has uplifted and will continue to do so the Iowa sports betting market is the end of the in-person registration requirement on January 1. Since the regulated industry was launched in Iowa in August 2019, the new bettors were legally required to create and register their mobile betting accounts in-person at one of Iowa’s land-based casinos. That perturbing registration requirement ended on January 1, 2021, enabling the bettors to create their sports betting accounts remotely from anywhere within the jurisdiction of the state.

In less than a week, new online operators, including the PointsBet and BetMGM, have entered Iowa to claim the market share. The state bettors can now legally bet online with huge betting options with DraftKings, FanDuel, Elite, Hard Rock, William Hill, Q Sportsbook, BetRivers, in addition to the recent entrants.

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