Iowa Sports Betting Handle Nearly $60 Million In November, But Tax Revenues Dip On Lower Hold


Sports betting surged in Iowa during the month of November as the overall handle at its 18 casinos reached nearly $60 million, but bettors walked away with more money, which meant less tax revenue reaching government coffers in the Hawkeye State.

The $59.34 mm handle — augmented by two new offerings for mobile sports betting — represented a 27.6% increase on October’s revised figures of $46.5 mm, but the hold drastically dropped to 6.1% in November as the casinos netted just under $3.6 mm. In October, Iowa’s casinos enjoyed a hold of 12.2%, which created a net of nearly $5.66 mm.

The result was a 36.3% dip in tax revenues to $242,903 from the $381,379 generated in October. Iowa, which has a tax rate of 6.75%, has generated just over $1.1 mm in revenue since sports betting began Aug. 15.

Catfish Bend, Q Casino new mobile options

Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington and Q Casino in Dubuque upped the number of casinos in Iowa offering mobile sports betting to nine. The two new entries helped account for an increase of nearly 30% in the overall mobile handle to $33.66 mm in November compared to $25.92 mm in October.

The drop in the hold on the mobile platform was also substantial, plummeting to 4.5% with net revenue of slightly more than $1.53 mm. That was 42.2% lower than October, when a 10.2% hold on mobile betting generated a net of $2.65 mm.

Five of the nine casinos with mobile sports betting platforms cleared a $1 mm handle, while a sixth — Rhythm City in Davenport — fell $126.44 short of seven figures.

Mobile betting accounted for 56.7% of Iowa’s total handle in November, slightly better than October’s mark of 55.7%. Iowa’s law requires in-person registration to gain access to a mobile sports betting account until Jan. 1, 2021.

Sports betting handles rise throughout Iowa

All but two of the 18 casinos reported a double-digit percentage increase in their respective month-on-month sports betting handles in November. In terms of actual money, Prairie Meadows in Altoona led the way with a handle of slightly less than $20.6 mm, an increase of 15.5% from October. The hold, though, slumped to 5% compared to 9.8% the previous month, resulting in tax revenue of $70,105 compared to $117,954 in October.

Prairie Meadows also saw a 17% increase in its mobile handle to $19.06 mm, which represented 92.6% of its total handle.

Riverside Casino, which narrowly edged out Isle Casino in Waterloo for the second-largest handle in the state at $5.36 mm, was where bettors found the most success. Riverside reported a paltry 1.75% hold, resulting in net revenue of just $94,008 and a tax contribution of $6,345 in contrast to the 12.7% hold in October, which resulted in a net of $430,119 and tax monies totaling $29,030.

Waterloo’s handle spiked 38.1% higher to $5.36 mm in November, but a hold of 6.1% resulted in a 20.8% fall-off to $325,906 in net revenues. Isle Casino, whose mobile handle increased 38.2% and accounted for just over 90% of its total handle, had a 10.6% hold in October on $3.87 mm as its mobile handle percentage remained nearly flat month-on-month.

Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson was the lone outlier reporting a higher percentage on the hold at 16.9% compared to October’s 12.9%. Coupled with the 5.4% increase in handle to $176,498, the casino had a 38.2% increase in net revenue to $29,812.

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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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