Sports Wagering in Iowa – What is going on?


Posted: July 14, 2021

Updated: July 15, 2021

  • Sports wagering in Iowa has been legal since 2019
  • There has been difficulties in the past year, but what is the setback now?
  • See the reasons and the possible future of gambling in the state
Image source: Flickr

Sports wagering has been legal since 2019 in the state of Iowa. Ever since then, there have been ups and downs in the business. The magic of the newest craze brought amazing revenues, but on the other hand, the difficult times of 2020 did not spare this industry either. And now, it looks like the business still has some things to figure out, as sports betting in the Hawkeye State dropped again. 

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If you are a gambler yourself, you are probably familiar with this: all the states in the US have different approaches concerning gambling. They all have their own legislations: some of them are easy on wagers, but some of them are quite strict. Well, Iowa is more like on the previous end. In fact, the Hawkeye State was the 11th of all to make online sports betting legal in May, 2019. Since that, several online gambling sites in the US, like Unibet became available in the state, with great success! However, in the last couple of months, they did not see great revenues. In fact, sports wagering dropped for the third consecutive month in June in Iowa.

Sports wagering in Iowa

As mentioned above, sports wagering is legal now in Iowa, since Governor Kim Reynolds signed bill SF617. That happened back in May 2019, and three months later they started accepting their first-ever legal sports bets. According to “The instant returns were great: in the first 17 days that sports betting was legal, casinos generated $8.5 million worth of bets, which resulted in $2.2 million in revenue – and $146K to the state in gambling taxes.” The business itself is regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. And it has been successful so far: the business became one of the strongest in the nation! However, right now, there is a little hog’s back: sports betting has been dropping for the last couple of months. But what could have possibly happened?

Dropping numbers

The reported – based on the PlayIA analysts – that Iowa’s sports wagering dropped for the third consecutive month in June. It is surprising knowing that the revenue improved and the pace of betting per day remained the same. But it is even more surprising after the past year when the business faced many challenges. (Like the pandemic making the in-person registration requirements much slower and harder.) So, how about the numbers right now? According to the website: “$111.2m was accepted by Iowa’s online and retail sportsbooks in June, which is down 3.2% on the previous month (May: $114.9m). The pace of betting stayed at $3.7m per day over the 30 days of June, the same value it was over the 31 days in May.Net operator revenue improved to $8.4m, up 37.4% from the previous month (May: $6.1m). June’s handle resulted in $568,501 in tax revenue.”

Sports Wagering in Iowa

What is the reason?

There can be a lot of different reasons for this little setback in Iowa. The challenges of the past year are probably still somewhere under the surface, although we cannot see those clearly. Also, as Dustin Gouker said, there is a lighter sports schedule, with only a few local betting events that interest gamblers in the state. So, they might be waiting for the perfect opportunities. Also, as mentioned above, there are already a couple of your favorite operators in the state, like Unibet. However, the market is still up for grabs, when it comes to other online sportsbook sites in the US. And as they get their licenses in the state, that will bring the market to a whole another level. We can say that confidently since experts are positive about one thing: sports wagering in Iowa has not reached its full peak yet.

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