The phrase “calm before the storm” is probably overused and overexaggerated. Sometimes it really can apply to a certain situation and maybe sports betting in Iowa is a perfect one.
On January 1, 2021, the In-Person Registration requirement expired in Iowa. All it takes is one look at a state that doesn’t have such a restriction to see how much it increases handle and revenue to allow prospective bettors to sign up with any app that they want.
The previous law on the books in Iowa forced bettors to physically appear at the retail sportsbook to validate their accounts. That is no longer the case, so users can sign up from anywhere and bet with any sportsbook. Iowans are no longer restricted to betting with the closest sports betting operator or forced to make long drives to open accounts at other places.
We should see much larger numbers for January than we saw for December 2020. However, the storm may have started a little prematurely. There was a huge spike in online and mobile wagering in Iowa before the restriction was lifted. Those that want to know how to bet on sports in Iowa couldn’t pick a better time to find out than right now.
Maybe people were bored and tired of sitting at home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, so they took a drive to open up a new account or maybe it had something to do with all of the sports that were going on. Whatever the case, the mobile and online wagering handle jumped almost $16 million from November to December in Iowa.
The internet handle wound up being $78,074,462.10 per the official state of Iowa report. That was an all-time record by a large margin. A new record will be set again in January with Remote Registration approved in Iowa, but it was still a very impressive development and led industry observers and analysts to have an extremely optimistic view about how much money will be bet in the future.
All in all, the $104.8 million handle in Iowa yielded $508,747.77 in tax money for the state. Like so many others during the COVID pandemic, Iowa has been hit hard by expense after expense and this unexpected spike in mobile handle could not have come at a better time. It was the first time Iowa topped $100 million since the first month of legal sports betting in August 2019.
As the dust settled on 2020, Iowa’s bean counters were excited to see the huge final month that gave the state just shy of $2.86 million in tax money from sports betting for the year.
FanDuel made up more than 17% of the mobile handle in Iowa, with DraftKings around 24%. Iowa is the best state in terms of market share for William Hill, as the world’s oldest sports betting operator took in more than 43% of the mobile handle. We should see the market dynamics shift a little bit now that Iowans have access to all of the state’s sportsbooks instead of the most convenient ones.
These numbers are especially impressive given that Illinois has legal sports betting now and Iowa lost some of the border traffic that would come over from places like Moline. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker temporarily halted the state’s In-Person Registration requirement in light of the pandemic.
Instead, Iowa surged forward and will continue to do so with Remote Registration to increase the online and mobile handles. With BetMGM and BetRivers now taking mobile and online wagers in Iowa, January should be a huge month.