Basketball fans love tournament time in March and there’s no doubt sports gambling companies in Iowa do too.
Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko says March is the top seed when it comes to money wagered on sports. “Last year, March was our highest month of handle. Of course the year before that it was disrupted by the pandemic — but 2021 was the largest month for the fiscal year,” Ohorilko says.
Sports bettors wagered more than $161 million last March. Ohorilko says that could be eclipsed this year as there are more sports gambling companies licensed — and lots of Iowa representation in the post-season tournaments.
“Generally with more operators, it’s reasonable to assume that we’ll have increased revenue from last year at this time,” he says. “The other factor is we have success from the Iowa teams. When there are Iowa teams participating it will draw the more casual fan and increased traffic.”
He says that school spirit may make some people place a bet on their favorite team. “March Madness is a time when we’ll see people fill out their brackets and maybe make an occasional bet — even though they may not have done that in some time,” Ohorilko says.
The sports gambling companies offer what are known as prop bets — betting on things like how many points a player can score — along with bets on which team will win. Ohorilko says prop bets are one area where your favorite Iowa team is out of play.
“The one exception will be if the game involves an Iowa college team. In those instances, prop betting on individual athletes is not permitted. But those would be limited to the games that Iowa teams are participating in,” according to Ohorilko.
Ohorilko reminds everyone to not get carried away with March Madness. “Sports wagering — no different than casino gambling or probably any form of wagering — it really is something that should be fun, should be discretional income, and certainly not something that should be done if someone is susceptible to tendencies to wager too much,” he says.
Ohorilko says sports gambling companies offer controls on their apps where you can set betting limits. If you think you may have a gambling problem — you can get free help at 1-800-Bets-Off.