Industry Sports

Iowa Casino Admissions Flat In August, But Helped By Addition Of Sportsbooks


Iowa began its sports betting industry on Aug. 15, and the results of the first half-month of action are in.

According to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, the 13 retail sportsbooks took $4.905 mm in wagers. The books held onto $1.737 mm of those wagers after payouts to gamblers.

The seven casinos with online/mobile sports wagering took a combined $3.67 mm in internet wagers, holding onto $424k of the wagers in the form of winnings.

Online/mobile accounted for 42.7% of the handle in the first half month of Iowa’s industry. For comparison, New Jersey, which began sports betting in June 2018, currently sees about 85% of the wagers come via the internet. The online/mobile share in Iowa will grow over time.

Online/mobile sportsbooks would have commanded a greater share in the state’s first half-month had it not been for an in-person registration requirement, which is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2021. It’s most convenient for consumers to be able to register remotely from anywhere in the state.

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Casino admissions

Despite the buzz of sports book openings, Iowa casino admissions were down ever so slightly in a year-over-year comparison, but it’s significantly less of a drop compared to the rest of 2019.

Iowa casinos saw 1.775 mm in admissions in August, and they generated a combined $128.259 mm in adjusted gross revenue from table games and slots, according to state figures.

In August 2018, the casinos saw 1.779 mm admissions, with $126.899 mm in AGR, per state figures.

Admissions were down by 0.17% in August, but that can be seen as a successful month considering that through the first seven months of 2019 admissions were down 4.6%.

The second half of last month more than likely saw an increase in admissions compared to the same two weeks in August 2018. Sportsbooks appear to be having an immediate positive impact.

September, which includes the start to the NFL season, will be a betting measuring stick.

Retail handle

Here’s a look at the Iowa casinos/sportsbooks by retail handle in August:

  1. Ameristar II: $1.364 mm
  2. Prairie Meadows: $1.132 mm
  3. Horseshoe Council Bluffs: $441k
  4. Isle of Capri Bettendorf: $380k
  5. Isle Casino Waterloo: $291k
  6. Rhythm City Casino: $287k
  7. Riverside Casino: $262k
  8. Harrah’s Council Bluff: $199k
  9. Catfish Bend Casino: $142k
  10. Diamond Jo Worth: $140k
  11. Q Casino: $120k
  12. Lakeside Casino: $116k
  13. Grand Falls Casino Resort: $24k

Catfish Bend, Harrah’s Council Bluff, and Horseshoe Council Bluffs all opened their respective books on Aug. 23, about a week after the other ones. Q Casino’s book opened Aug. 27.

Internet handle

Below is a list of each casino’s online/mobile handle:

  1. Prairie Meadows: $2.279 mm
  2. Isle Casino Waterloo: $624k
  3. Isle of Capri: $264k
  4. Riverside: $231k
  5. Lakeside Casino: $165k
  6. Rhythm City: $62k
  7. Grand Falls: $41k

William Hill is behind the online/mobile products for the top three, in addition to Lakeside.

The other books partnered with Bet.Works for sports wagering.

Catfish Bend, which hasn’t kicked off online/mobile yet, partnered with PointsBet.

Rush Street Interactive, FanDuel, and DraftKings are all poised to launch online/mobile in the state in the near future with their respective casino partners.

Road ahead

Iowa has the potential to see around $4 billion in annual sports betting handle, which could generate around $250 mm in sports gaming win, according to a 2017 study from Oxford Economics, commissioned by the American Gaming Association.

Six casinos didn’t have retail wagering in August, and only seven casinos had online/mobile, so there’s still more sports betting supply in the pipeline. Iowa’s industry will take some time to mature.

Assuming no cannibalization of existing table game and slot gambling, sports wagering could grow Iowa’s casino market by more than 15% and reverse a years-long admissions slide.

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