Iowans placed $16 million in Super Bowl bets, smashed others records in January

If one month and another Midwest-focused Super Bowl are any indication, it’s clear that Iowans will be betting big on sports in 2021.

More than $16.3 million was wagered this year in Iowa on the NFL championship game alone, according to totals released this week by the Iowa Gaming Association, and another record month of overall wagering in January already shows the state’s relaxed rules for this year taking hold.

First, the game itself: The betting handle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs dwarfed the tott barrier to entry. Since Jan. 1, proof of age and identity have been enough for any Iowan 21 years and older to register for a mobile wagering account. As such, the market expanded, from a handful of apps to now 10 currently licensed, according to IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko. He said a dozen more companies are waiting in the wings.

The reasons for the handle disparity, Ehrecke said, are manifold but can be boiled down to two primary factors: market maturity and accessibility. In 2019 and 2020, in-person registration at a casino was required before a bettor could place wagers through a mobile app.

Another year in the market has increased awareness of the activity, he said, and a recent rules relaxation has removed geography as the biggest barrier to entry. Since Jan. 1, proof of age and identity have been enough for any Iowan 21 years and older to register for a mobile wagering account. As such, the market expanded, from a handful of apps to now 10 currently licensed, according to IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko. He said a dozen more companies are waiting in the wings.

In short, sports betting is more visible and more available, and it’s showing. 

The clearest proof is in the latest monthly handle and revenue report to the state commission. January saw more than $149.5 million in wagers being placed statewide, smashing the previous record of $104.8 million set just last month by almost 43%. The increase in mobile betting was prevalent, with $120.8 million wagered through those devices in January, compared with $78.1 million in December.

The ease of access to providers also increased competition, which immediately evened the playing field among the major U.S. sportsbooks. DraftKings, which operates under the branding of the three Wild Rose Casino properties in Iowa, led in online handle with $40.1 million placed overall. William Hill, which had dominated the market because of its association with Prairie Meadows Hotel and Casino in Altoona, fell to second place in online wagering, but only just, at $39.8 million. William Hill still netted the most revenue overall in Iowa at a $2.9 million clip.

Anecdotally, the initial in-person registration requirement was seen by both casino industry leaders and state lawmakers as a chance to drive a new clientele into the facilities themselves, with sports wagering being an activity that skews to younger demographics than those who typically frequent casinos. But Ehrecke said that’s not as much of a worry anymore, as operators had seen mobile betting skyrocket through the coronavirus pandemic, anyway, and are now able to reach more customers in more places.

“There’s a lot more awareness, and considerably more marketing because of the lack of a remote registration requirement,” Ehrecke said. “… People love to watch sports and place wagers on them in a regulated, legal environment. It’s all positive.”

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/sports/2021/02/12/superbowl-55-iowa-sports-betting-record-150-million-january-draftkings-fanduel-william-hill/6705618002/