Iowa continues to see its sports gambling action progress at a steady pace. Perhaps not at an all-out sprint or a fast gallop, but it is improving and gaining greater traction. Last November, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) reported that mobile and retail sportsbooks had seen a handle of $59.3 million, 27.5% more than the previous month. Through the end of January, the total now stands at $270.3 million since the activity was introduced about six months ago. As no surprise to anyone, mobile wagers are getting the majority of the action, accounting for $152.4 million of the total, but things are not even close to what will be seen before the end of this year.
When Iowa’s lawmakers created their sports gambling bill, they made it a requirement that anyone wishing to place online wagers must first register in person at one of the state’s casinos. While the measure met a degree of resistance, it was included as a way to prevent underage people from gambling. However, looking ahead, lawmakers agreed that the requirement could be lifted after 18 months. As the president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association, Wes Ehrecke, explains, “This just gave that comfort level for legislators, as well that there’s going to be this time frame to get things established.”
This means that, come next January, there will be a lot more online registrations from gamblers. In the meantime, operators are going to have to deal with growth – slow or fast – and wait for the explosion. However, it doesn’t appear that there is concern that the revenue won’t be coming in the interim.
The IRGC has issued sports gambling licenses to the 19 casinos in the state, and ten of these have launched mobile sportsbooks. Casino.org points out that nine of these have had their platforms in place for just over two months, while the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sioux City just got its application off the ground in the middle of December. In reviewing the traffic, Casino.org points out, “While a majority of the casinos have seen increases in traffic, the initial results are mixed. Of the eight that have seen increased casino traffic, four reported growth of less than five percent. Three of the 10 casinos saw adjusted gross revenues either decline or remain the same, and three casinos saw admissions increases exceed revenue growth, with two far exceeding.”
Nine casinos are still putting the final touches on their sports gambling plans, and DraftKings and FanDuel are going to be involved in five of these. There isn’t a huge rush to get the programs up and running as a result of the in-person registration requirement, but, as next January continues to approach, that will change. Not only will the remaining casinos have their platforms ready, but there’s little doubt that January is going to see a huge increase in the number of registrations.