Iowa Sportsbooks Break State Record Without In-Person Registration

Published: 8th February 2021
Author: Joe Kizlauskas
Last Updated: 21st April 2022

Iowa’s sportsbooks have broken the state record with bets of almost $150m, having flourished without in-person registration in their first full month.

As reported by analysts for PlayIA, which tracks regulated online and retail gaming in the state, betting in the Hawkeye State is expected to continue on an upward trajectory after DraftKings and FanDuel made a good start.

Online and retail sportsbooks

Online and retail sportsbooks handled wagers of more than $149.5 million, up 42.7 per cent from the record $104.8 million handled in December. These bets boosted net receipts to $11.3 million, up 50.5 percent from $7.5 million in December, which yielded state taxes of $765,673.

‘First test of an unshackled market’

Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayIA.com said: “January was the just first test of an unshackled market, but it didn’t take long to realize just how much Iowa’s sportsbooks have been held back by the state’s in-person registration requirements.

“These will be an exciting next few months in the market, with some of the biggest sports-betting holidays — namely the Super Bowl and March Madness — buoying what should be rapid expansion. This is a whole new era in Iowa sports betting.”

First to disclose January data

Iowa is the first major US market to disclose data from January, but only seven states drew more bets in December. With $180.9m in December wagering, Tennessee was seventh.

Online betting was Iowa’s clear winner, generating more than 80.8 per cent of all bets, translating to $120.8 million in handling.

In December, online betting accounted for 74.5 per cent, or $78.1m, of all bets. In the US, about 82 per cent of all legal sports bets are made online, with about 90 per cent being taken up by most states without in-person registration requirements.

Strong preference for online sportsbooks

Jessica Welmen, PlayIA.com analyst, observed: “Iowa’s market already showed a strong preference for online sportsbooks, but the change in the requirements should bring the state more in line to what we see in states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“In the pre-pandemic environment, online growth grew the pie rather than siphoning off significant action from the retail market. Once the market normalizes, that pattern should hold in Iowa, too.”

The removal of the in-person registration provision of the state has changed the environment for operators. The dominant Wild Rose license brand, DraftKings, helped wrestle the market lead away from William Hill/Prairie Meadows.

In January, the Wild Rose license, which includes DraftKings and the newly introduced BetRivers, accounted for 33 percent of the online handling of the state with $40.1m in bets. William Hill nevertheless managed to raise $39.8 million and led the market with $2.9 million in sales, making it the single-largest brand in the state.

Diamond Jo’s $26.9m in online bets was fuelled by FanDuel. The license for Diamond Jo, which also includes BetMGM, was second in sales, earning $ 2.2 million, which was just ahead of the $ 2 million in revenue for Wild Rose.

Market lead for FanDuel and DraftKings

“FanDuel and DraftKings own the market leader in nearly every legal US market, so it’s no surprise that they capitalized on the rules change to increase their market share,” Gouker concluded. 

“But William Hill is proving to be a tough competitor. The battles over market share are just beginning to heat up. That is good for consumers, who will benefit from fierce competition among operators.”

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About Joe Kizlauskas

Joe is a seasoned iGaming copywriter and speaker who has been in the business since 2015. He's written more words on all elements of iGaming than he likes to remember, and he's contributed material to a number of well-known brands. Joe may be seen playing 5 a side, at the gym or playing games on his Playstation when he is not writing.