Iowa Posts Record $87.2M Sports Betting Handle In November

For the third straight month, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reported a record sports betting handle as wagers totaled $87.2 million.
Iowa November handle
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The appetite for sports betting continued to grow in Iowa as the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission reported an $87.2 million handle for November — the third consecutive month it has set a new standard.

It was a 6.4% increase on October’s handle of $81.9 million across Iowa’s 18 casinos that conduct sports betting. The Hawkeye State, like most others with legalized sports wagering, has seen a three-month surge as the presence of the NFL and more robust sports schedule offerings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have satisfied a pent-up demand for wagering.

It has posted a cumulative handle of nearly $241.5 million in that span, representing 35.4% of its overall handle since accepting its first legal bets in August 2019.

The hold was 9.34%, which meant sportsbooks across Iowa combined to collect slightly more than $8.1 million in revenue. It was the second-best month since launching in August 2019, eclipsed only by last month’s total of nearly $9.1 million. Iowa’s tax coffers received nearly $550,000, and the $1.16 million collected over the past two months represents 31.8% of the $3.65 million in sports wagering tax revenue since launch.

Mobile handle up as DraftKings poses challenge to William Hill

Mobile sports wagering in Iowa also set a new monthly standard with a $62.4 million handle, bettering the previous mark set in October of nearly $56.9 million. It represented 71.6% of the overall handle, marking the first time mobile wagering accounted for more than 70% of the total handle with a minimum of $50 million in overall handle.

That augurs well for Iowa potentially hitting $100 million in overall handle in 2021 since the in-person registration provision to obtain access to mobile wagering sunsets Dec. 31.

William Hill remains the top mobile operator in the state, generating nearly $27 million in handle in November across its six properties. Its anchor, Prairie Meadows, had a dip of nearly 3.4% month over month to a mobile handle of nearly $17.8 million in November, but Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs generated $1.1 million in its first full month of operation as a William Hill property.

Though still a ways from challenging the British-based book for overall supremacy in the Hawkeye State, DraftKings is gaining ground through the three Wild Rose Casinos across the state. The properties in Clinton, Emmetsburg, and Jefferson combined to generate a mobile handle of slightly less than $15.1 million, an increase of 27.7% over October’s handle of $11.8 million.

Wild Rose’s property in Jefferson has emerged as DraftKings’ anchor in Iowa, becoming just the second sportsbook in the state to reach eight figures in mobile wagering after posting a handle increase of 30.4% month over month to nearly $10.5 million in November.

Retail Notes

Diamond Jo Casino in Worth narrowly edged out Ameristar II in Council Bluffs as the top sports betting handle generator on the retail side, accepting $5.4 million in wagers compared to Ameristar II’s handle of just under $5.3 million. The book at Ameristar, however, was a bigger winner in November as it posted a healthy 16.6% win rate to collect nearly $880,000 in revenue — tops among the retail books in Iowa.

Despite the overall healthy win rate, two retail sportsbooks did pay out more than they took in. Isle Casino in Waterloo had a -8.2% hold as it paid out $58,530 more than the nearly $714,000 it accepted in bets placed, while those who made the trip to Jefferson and played at Wild Rose took home $228,503, slightly more than the $216,314 bet.

Overall, only Prairie Meadows ($1.77 million) and Diamond Jo in Worth ($1.03M) were able to clear seven figures in sportsbook revenue. Despite a total handle of nearly $10.7 million, Wild Rose in Jefferson collected barely more than $335,000 as it posted the lowest win rate among Iowa’s sportsbooks at 3.14%. Prairie Meadows and Diamond Jo Worth had holds of 9.21% and 11.69%, respectively.

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