Iowa Betting Handle Dips In January, Tax Revenues Up Slightly

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It was a tough start to the new year for Iowa’s casinos, which had a 2.1% dip in total handle for sports betting compared to December, according to the statistics released by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

The 18 casinos in the Hawkeye State that accepted wagers on sporting events reported a combined $58 mm in handle, which was approximately $1.2 mm less than December. All 19 casinos in Iowa have a sports betting license, but Casino Queen in Marquette did not take bets in January.

On the positive side, the state reported a 5.6% hold, which resulted in tax revenue of $223,571 — an increase of 12.4% month over month. Sports betting has generated nearly $1.53 mm in tax revenue since becoming available last August, with more than $270 mm in bets placed.

Less money bet in-person at casinos

Iowa still requires bettors to register in person at a brick-and-mortar casino before being able to bet online, a provision that does not expire until Jan. 1. That could have had a two-pronged effect on the January handle since there was less money bet at casinos in January compared to December, with the weather possibly keeping bettors — including perhaps potential first-time sports bettors — home.

The retail handle in January was just shy of $24.2 mm, which was 6.3% lower than the $25.8 mm wagered in December. In addition to the smaller handle, three casinos — Isle of Capri in Bettendorf, Q Casino, and Wild Rose in Jefferson — all had negative holds on retail betting for January. Bettendorf had a staggering -17.9% hold as it paid out almost $911,000 on winning bets compared to taking in $772,450.

The internet handle among the 10 casinos partnered with online sportsbooks was up slightly in January to $33.84 mm and accounted for 58.3% of the overall handle, which are both all-time highs in the nascent market. Still, those numbers pale in comparison to Indiana, which has remote registration and reported an internet handle of $123.4 mm in January according to its state gaming commission.

There has been $152.4 mm in online sports bets placed in Iowa since going live.

recent gaming industry survey found that more than a third of Iowa gamblers feel that the in-person registration process is somewhat or very inconvenient. Additionally, 13% said they would not drive to register their online sports betting account at a casino.

William Hill continues to dominate internet betting

William Hill again claimed a lion’s share of the internet handle in Iowa as its sportsbooks at Prairie Meadows and Lakeside plus Eldorado Resorts properties in Bettendorf and Waterloo accounted for $25.8 mm (76.2%) of wagers placed online. Prairie Meadows alone reported $18.65 mm bet online, a 5.6% increase month over month.

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Chris Altruda

Chris Altruda has been a sportswriter with ESPN, The Associated Press, and STATS over more than two decades. He recently expanded into covering sports betting and gambling around the Midwest.

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