Iowa is laughing all the way to the bank. As soon as regulators could utter “Go” upon the legalization of sports gambling in the state, the wagers began. Now, after the first full month of legalized bets have been placed, Iowa has seen the economic benefit that it had hoped. September’s sports gambling handle was $40 million.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) released the figures late last week after tallying up all the data the casinos had provided. In total, 15 of the 18 licensed casinos in the state saw sports wagers last month, while three more – properties under the Wild Rose brand – will report their first month of activity at the end of October.
$40 million in the first month is impressive and will certainly increase from there. The net revenue was $4.956 million, a hold of 12.9%, which has to make the sportsbooks extremely happy. Ultimately, that will make the state happy, as well.
Of course, September had a little extra boost in the sports area. It was the start of the NFL season, as well as the college football season, and both of those are always popular with sports gamblers. Additionally, Iowa has mobile sportsbooks operational, giving gamblers even more options to place their bets.
In proving how vital mobile sports gambling apps are to revenue, the IRGC reports that 56.6% – $21.8 million – of the total handle for the month came through apps. Prairie Meadows Casino and Hotel, for example, saw a total of $14.526 million in wagers, and $12.96 million of that amount was conducted by sports fans using smartphones and tablets.
Iowa launched its first sportsbooks in the middle of August. For the last two weeks, the state took in $146,000 in taxes from the sports gambling industry and September proved to be almost identical, comparatively speaking. With a 6.75% tax on net receipts, Iowa received $334,553 last month, a little more than double the take from August.
Iowans love their football and apparently love to wager on football games. According to IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilok, “There were a lot of busy books [the weekend of the Iowa-Iowa State football game], and we’re still hearing reports on Saturdays and Sundays that there are lines out the doors of many sportsbooks. So we’ve definitely seen some big days.”
To put things into perspective, Iowa is outperforming several other states. Indiana saw $35.2 million in wagers, Mississippi saw $31.8 million, Delaware reported $14.1 million and West Virginia settled with $7.33 million. At this rate, Iowa could prove to be more valuable than Pennsylvania or New Jersey in terms of sports gambling revenue, but that’s still a little ways away. Both states are reporting monthly handles that, in August, were in the nine-figure range.