Iowa Sports Betting Enjoys Strong November

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Sioux City

Sports betting handle in Iowa jumped 27.5% in November from the previous month, with the state’s retail and mobile sportsbooks reporting a total handle of $59.3 million.

That’s according to figures released by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC), which also show a sharp rise in online/mobile handle, up 30% to $33.7 million from October’s record figure ($25.9 million).

Sports betting revenue falls

Revenue from sports betting was down last month, however, dipping 36% to $3.6 million, having reached a high of $5.7 million in October.

Iowa is not alone in that respect as both New Jersey and Pennsylvania recorded reduced revenue figures in November, most likely due to operators having to dole out promotional credits to players.

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Online share could be better

Since the launch of legal sports betting in early August, bettors in the Hawkeye State have put down nearly $153 million in bets, with the majority of that (55%) being wagered online via websites or mobile apps.

That percentage is way down on what we’re seeing in other states such as New Jersey, where 86.5% of all bets in November were placed digitally, and there is a simple reason for that: in-person registration.

Online bettors in Iowa are required by law to register in-person to visit one of the state’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks to complete the registration process and provide age verification. That requirement is in place through to January 1, 2021.

Signing up is not that easy either in Rhode Island, where sports betting is controlled by the state lottery and whose app is struggling to convert downloads into bona fide signups.

Recent figures show that less than half of all people who download the lottery’s app go on to complete their registration by driving to either of the state’s casinos.

Mobile operators thin on the ground

But that’s not all that’s holding mobile sports betting back in Iowa, with wagering options limited to just a small handful of operators.

William Hill are by far the largest of these, having been one of the first to market and partnered with four state casinos, including Prairie Meadows in Altoona.

That is proving a perfect marriage as the suburban Des Moines racetrack handled a total of $20.6 million in wagers last month, of which $19.1 million (around 92%) came via their William Hill-operated mobile product.

ELITE Sportsbook was the other early online entrant in Iowa and one of its three land-based partners, the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, enjoyed a 74% increase in online betting activity from month-to-month, with nearly $4.8 million in bets.

Riverside Casino

Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, Riverside, IA enjoyed a successful November

A couple of newcomers to test the online waters last month were the Q Casino in Dubuque, with IGT chosen as its vendor, and PointsBet, which added a mobile app to its retail offering at the Catfish Bend Casino.

What, no FanDuel or DraftKings?

FanDuel and DraftKings are now live with daily fantasy sports operations in Iowa, but neither have a Sportsbook mobile offering in the state currently.

FanDuel does operate a physical sportsbook at the Diamond Jo Casino in Fort Worth and that property took the state’s top retail spot in November, handling $4.5 million in bets. That it is located closest to the Minnesota state line is a big help.

DarftKings is partnered with the three Wild Rose Casino locations, which were amongst the last in the state to open retail sportsbooks in early October. Like their arch-rival, the operator has yet to announce a launch date for its mobile app.

Hard Rock goes mobile

In the meantime, smaller operators will continue to get a jump on those two industry giants and they now include Hard Rock International, which earlier this week added a mobile sportsbook to its retail offering at the Hard Rock International Hotel & Casino Sioux City.

Just like its retail sportsbook, which started taking bets over-the-counter on the casino floor in September, the mobile version is powered by European gaming and wagering technology provider Gaming Innovation Group (GiG).

Hard Rock is now offering the same experience to Iowa customers as it has already delivered to great acclaim in Atlantic City, N.J, and both companies have said they hope to open more sportsbooks and roll out betting apps in other locations across the U.S.

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