Iowa Racing and Gaming Administrator, Brian Ohorilko, says the amount of money bet on sports or “handle” shot up last month. “The month of September was $72 million. That exceeds the highest month we’ve ever had in the state. Last year in November and December were previously our high months at 59 million,” Ohorilko says.
The sports wagering handle for the fiscal year that began in July is more than $145 million and net sports wagering receipts are $10.4 million. The total net sports wagering receipts for the first fiscal year were $25.7 million. Sports betting started in mid-August of last year, but was shut down from mid-March until the end of May.
Ohorilko says the increase in sports betting this fiscal year is due in part to the pandemic pushing back the NHL and NBA seasons, and the start of the football season. He says it is also due to a maturing of the industry. “Last year at this time there were just a handful of operators and those operators were trying to understand and learn about the Iowa market,” according to Ohorilko. “We have quite a few more options for customers at this point in time. I say that — although we still do not have an internet option in the Council Bluffs area,” Ohorilko says. He says Council Bluffs is expected to add the sports internet gambling in the coming weeks.
Ohorilko expects the sports gambling market revenue will continue to grow. “Simply because we have more college football leagues that are going to start up. People will be wagering on those sports. And then, we are still seeing applications coming in from companies that are wanting to offer online sports wagering,” he says. “So, the market is still continuing to grow and so it is reasonable to expect the numbers will increase as well,”
Ohorilko says most people are betting online after signing up at casinos.” Right now in the Iowa market, 70 percent of the sports wagering handle is conducted online — and so that is an overall number — and that is factoring in a few of the casinos that are still not offering an online option,” Ohorilko says.
He says individual betting numbers are almost all online at some casinos. “For example at Jefferson, we are seeing 99 percent of the sports wagering handle being done through the DraftKings mobile app. So, there are a significant amount of the sports wagering customer base that is doing the wagering online,” Ohorilkoh says. He says that could increase at other casinos as the requirement that you first sign up at a casino before wagering on sports will be dropped in January.
Ohorilko says it does not look like the sports betting is taking away from the traditional betting inside casinos. “We really have not seen the online sports wagering impact the casino numbers. Attendance is significantly off from last year in casinos — but I think most people believe that is related to the pandemic, and not necessarily related to sports wagering.”
He says it appears sports betting has opened up a new market. Ohorilko says we will know more about the impact on the traditional casinos as we move along and see what COVID-19 restrictions remain on them and how people respond.