Remote Registration Fuels Iowa Sports Betting Handle Surge to $149.5M

The first month of remote registration for sports betting in Iowa proved wildly popular
Iowa 2021 January Handle

If you build it, they will come. And if you let them put it on their smartphones, they will play.

The first month of remote registration availability for sports betting in Iowa resulted in a stunning spike in handle and revenue for the month of January. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission’s report on Friday detailed a record handle of more than $149.5 million and operator revenue of over $11.3 million that also set a new standard.

It is the fifth consecutive month the Hawkeye State established a new benchmark in handle, with January’s total nearly tripling August’s handle of $50.3 million. It also put Iowa in line to be the seventh state to reach $1 billion in cumulative handle when February’s report is released; January’s number raised the total to just shy of $937 million since launching in August 2019.

January’s handle was a 42.7% increase from December’s total of $104.8 million and a 157.7% increase from January 2020, when operators accepted $58 million in wagers. Despite an ordinary win rate of 7.59%, operators across the state crossed the eight-figure threshold in revenue for the first time, bettering the previous standard of $9.1 million established in October and collecting 50.5% more revenue than December.

The state’s tax coffers collected nearly $766,000 in receipts, and nearly half of the almost $5 million in tax revenue generated from sports betting has been generated in the last four months.

Mobile handle tops $120 million as bettors go online

The in-person registration provision to obtain access to mobile sports wagering that was part of the bill Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law legalizing sports betting expired with the turning of the calendar year. While the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to bettors gradually establishing a larger mobile presence, the percentage of handle generated online still lagged behind states that had remote registration from the start.

The IRGC reported mobile bets totaling nearly $120.8 million in January, an increase of 35.3% from December and nearly double November’s total of $62.4 million. Excluding the reports from April through June at the height of the pandemic, it is the first time mobile handle in Iowa accounted for at least 80% of the overall amount wagered.

More than $8.4 million in revenue came from mobile wagering, with the 6.96% win rate slightly lower than the overall mark.

BetRivers makes instant impact at Wild Rose locations

Though BetRivers opted to enter Iowa as a digital-only entity for sports betting last month, it made a notable impact at the three Wild Rose Casinos with which it’s partnered. BetRivers uses the Kambi platform, which also powers DraftKings, and those online brands combined for more than $40 million in Wild Rose mobile wagering — more than double December’s total of $18.7 million.

Wild Rose’s Jefferson location generated the second-highest mobile handle in January with nearly $21.64 million in wagers, edging out Prairie Meadows ($21.63 million) — the anchor of William Hill‘s six mobile tie-ins across the state. Diamond Jo in Dubuque, powered by FanDuel, took top mobile handle honors with just under $22.7 million, and another of William Hill’s operators — Isle Casino in Waterloo — also reached eight figures with a handle of $10.4 million. Wild Rose in Clinton finished less than $6,000 shy of $10 million.

William Hill’s combined mobile handle in the state amounted to more than $39.8 million, while FanDuel generated nearly $26.9 million via its two Diamond Jo locations. An oddity among internet handles reported showed Elite Sportsbook-run Riverside Casino and Golf Resort and Rhythm City Casino separated by eight cents as each venue had more than $3.5 million in wagers.

And don’t forget about the retail locations

Lost in the surge driven by mobile wagering is the fact that Iowa’s 18 casinos offering sports betting also set a monthly high-water mark themselves with nearly $29 million wagered in person. Diamond Jo’s other location in Worth accounted for nearly 25% of that total with almost $7.25 million accepted in bets, while a pair of Council Bluff locations — Ameristar II and Horseshoe — combined for $10.4 million.

While finishing third in mobile handle and second in overall handle, Prairie Meadows did claim the top spot for revenue with more than $1.84 million. Both Diamond Jo locations reached seven figures, combining for more than $2.91 million in profits, and Wild Rose in Jefferson nosed over the line with $1.03 million. Wild Rose’s three locations totaled nearly $2.14 million in revenue.

Hard Rock had the highest win rate in the state at 12.74%, edging out Harrah’s in Council Bluff (12.73%). Ameristar II (11.5%), Grand Falls (10.63%), Catfish Bend (10.15%), and Diamond Jo Worth (10.07%) also had double-digit holds, but the overall percentage was dragged down by the three Wild Rose locations, which all finished below 6%, and the Jefferson venue posted a state-low 4.66% win rate on nearly $22 million wagered overall.

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