The future of sports betting in the state could look a lot like what’s been put in place in Delaware. The Iowa Lottery has been following the issue at the request of state lawmakers after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May made sports betting legal across the county.
Lottery spokesperson Mary Neubauer says Delaware approved sports betting shortly after the court ruling. “We think Delaware did a really good job of designing its system to try to provide the convenience factor that all of the experts have said is so important in terms of trying to beat back the black market,” Neubauer explains. “You have to make it convenient for people to be able to place wagers or they’ll just stick will the illegal means.”
The largest share of the betting in Delaware is on NFL and college football games. Gamblers bet $2.8 million of the overall $5.1 million in sports betting on the pro game in the first week of the NFL season. They bet nearly $2.6 million on the NFL in its second week out of the and $5.5 million total for sports betting. Neubauer says Delaware has a system where you can bet in casinos or at retail locations, such as convenience stores.
“In Delaware the way it works is that full blown sports betting — meaning sports betting with every possible variation that you could imagine — is done at casino locations. But then retail locations offer what are called parlay bets — which is bets on more than one game at a time. So, obviously the offerings at retail are more limited.” Neubauer says there’s a distinct difference in the types of betting.
“The numbers are showing that the bets that are being placed at retail locations are smaller — which what I think is what the experts would have told us to anticipate. That those are just casual betters, maybe they just place a bet on the way home,” according to Neubauer. “The bets that are being placed at casino locations in Delaware are larger. So, the true sports betting enthusiasts seem to be going to the casinos.” The wagers at the retail location in Delaware average almost $11, while the casino wagers average nearly $51. She says she can see the same type of plan working in Iowa.
“I think that same kind of model already exists here in Iowa within our gaming market here — where you have lottery at retail locations and then casino locations as well. There seems to be room for both,” Neubauer says. There’s also a link between the Iowa and Delaware gaming markets.
“The system provider in Delaware that is providing the equipment and the communications system for the sports betting that’s occurring in casinos and locations is Scientific International. That is the Iowa Lottery’s vendor here in Iowa,” Neubauer explains. “So that is the way we are able to get access to a lot of the numbers that we’ve already been sharing.” She says it is possible the vendor could work it out so sports betting could be done through the existing lottery machines and infrastructure.
Neubauer says the Delaware model and the connection with the service provider gives an early indication of how things might work. “The expertise is there, it’s just a question of what do Iowa lawmakers want to do. And once they’ve made that decision, then we can provide whatever assistance they may need,” Neubauer says.
Neubauer updated the Iowa Lottery Board at their meeting Thursday. She says they will continue reviewing the sports gambling landscape and keep lawmakers updated, so they have the latest information if they decide to move ahead with the issue.