Iowa hits $100m in sports betting handle in December

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Analysts say Hawkeye State will make ‘jump forward’ in 2021.

Online and retail sportsbook operators in Iowa enjoyed a record December, as sports betting handle topped $100m for the first time.

The strong month pushed total handle for 2020 to nearly $600m, per figures released by the state.

According to PlayIA.com, no one should expect December’s record to last long.

Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIA.com, said in a statement that growth by Iowa’s sports betting industry has been impressive, as it’s become the seventh-largest market in the US despite the “significant handicap” of in-person registration – a requirement that expired on 31 December.

“With in-person registration now gone, Iowa’s sports betting market should take off,” Welman assessed. “The monthly handle should make a jump forward in the coming months.”

According to official data released Friday, December saw a record $104.8 million in sports wagers, making Iowa the eighth state to surpass $100 million in wagers in a single month. The handle led to $7.5m in net receipts for operators, and a subsequent $508,748 in taxes for the state.

Even with the pandemic wiping out four months of the college and professional sports calendar, including March Madness, Iowa bettors wagered $575.2m in 2020, with operators netting $41.6m and the state collecting $2.9m.

Analysts said Iowa should rank seventh in 2020 handle for states that allow legal sports betting.

“With the sports schedule expected to be more stable 2021, and in-person registration gone, the room for growth in the year ahead is significant,” PlayIA.com said in a statement, noting online betting generated $405.2m in bets, or 70.4% of the state’s handle in 2020. In Indiana, which has no in-person registration requirement, online betting currently accounts for about 85% of handle.

PlayIA.com projects within five years, Iowa will grow into a market that generates more than $4 billion in bets annually.

“Assuming Iowa follows a similar pattern, which it should, online betting will not only represent an even larger share of the sports-betting pie, but it should also grow the overall size of that pie,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayIA.com. “Removing in-person registration is a huge step toward market maturity.”

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