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Iowa Sports Betting Handle Is On The Up

Prairie Meadows Sportsbook

Iowa bettors wagered $46.5 million in October, a near 21% rise on the previous month, with more than half of the total generated online.

That’s according to figures released by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which included receipts from all seven of the state’s casinos and other gambling facilities that accept wagers.

Overall sports betting revenue was up top, climbing from $4.9 million to $5.6 million in the same time frame. That generated around $381,000 in taxes for the state, which receives 6.75% on net receipts.

More online bets in October

Online betting accounted for $25.9 million last month, representing 56% of the total handle, with the seven sportsbooks that offer mobile reporting net earnings of $2.7 million.

Of these, Prairie Meadows handled the lion’s share of wagers through its William Hill Sportsbook. The racino on the outskirts of Des Moines reached a handle of $16.3 million and held on for $1.5 million in revenue.

Other online books to hit seven figures in handle last month were the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo, which accepted $3.5 million in mobile bets; the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort ($2.7m), and the Isle of Capri Bettendorf ($1.3m).

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Like Prairie Meadows, William Hill operates the retail and online sportsbook at the Isle casinos, while the Elite-owned Riverside uses Bet. Works to operate its online application.

October was the first full month of mobile betting and more improvement is on the cards, with both FanDuel and PointsBet awaiting launch.

Retail sportsbooks nearest state line faring best

As we’ve seen elsewhere across the country, those casinos positioned close to the state line are benefiting from out-of-state money.

The two Council Bluffs casinos located just across the state line from Omaha, Neb. combined for $6.7 million in bets last month, while Diamond Jo Worth, which sits just four miles from the Minnesota state line, reported $5.6 million in handle.

It’s a similar story in Indiana, where those casinos in closest proximity to downtown Chicago are raking in the most handle and revenue. Illinois has been slow to implement legal sports betting and its residents are clearly crossing the state line in droves.

In-person registration holding Iowa back

The big difference between the fledgling sports betting industries in Iowa and Indiana is the former state’s requirement for prospective bettors to first register in person at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook.

That’s in place through to January 1, 2021, and while it won’t stop real betting enthusiasts from getting a piece of the action, it’s clearly a hindrance and explains why the total wagers placed online in Iowa is not higher.

The emergence of mobile apps in the Hoosier State has resulted in a huge jump in handle, with almost $92 million being wagered in October, a surge of 160% from the previous month when only retail sportsbooks were operating.

As bettors can register remotely, out-of-state residents simply need to cross the state line to place a bet and even a truck stop or parking lot will do.

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which allow remote registration, the vast majority of bets are placed online, accounting for 75% and 85% of the total handle respectively.

So while Iowa has made a solid start in terms of sports betting handle and revenue, it’s not realizing its full potential compared to competing states that have a fully mobile legal industry.

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