With college football kicking off on the final Saturday of August, and the NFL season approaching, sportsbooks in Iowa saw wagering increase by 20% last month compared to July.
Iowa’s online and retail sportsbooks accepted $108.4m in bets in August, up 21.1% from $88.9m in July, according to official data. Bettors placed $3.5m in wagers per day over the 31 days of August, up from $2.9m per day during the 31 days of July.
Despite the volume increase, operator revenue fell 14.3% to $6.6m, from $7.7m in July. August wagers generated $486,608 in tax revenue for the state.
Analysts with PlayIA, which covers the Iowa gaming market, said August’s total of $108m in handle represented the first month-on-month gain in betting volume since March’s record-setting month.
Including August, the Hawkeye State nearly reached $1 billion in wagering since January 1. Eric Ramsey, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIA.com, called the year-to-date total of $997m a “noteworthy milestone” ahead of what likely will be the busiest four months of the year.
“Futures betting and a handful of college games were enough to move the needle,” Ramsey said in a statement, adding, “That’s how important football is to the sports betting industry. August is a precursor for what should be the busiest stretch of the year. Optimistic projections for the last four months put the state past $1.7bn in wagers for the year.”
Year-over-year, August’s wagering was up 115% compared to $50.3m in August 2020. Meanwhile, revenue grew 120% in August from $3m in August 2020.
Baseball led the way in August, but the return of college football, even if just for a handful of games, was a significant reason why volume increased in August, Ramsey assessed.
September is expected to show even greater gains, PlayIA said. A full college football schedule and the return of the NFL will always bring a boom in sports betting. The 11 September showdown between No. 9 Iowa State and No. 10 Iowa — the first time a Cy-Hawk game featured both teams in the AP Top 10 — was predicted to be a major boon for Iowa sportsbooks.
“A game that creates that kind of excitement is rare, sending fans on both sides pouring into the state’s online and retail sportsbooks,” Ramsey said. “That made it a unique opportunity for the industry to reach college football fans all across Iowa, including those who have never placed a bet before.”
Online accounts for 89% of bets placed
In August, $96.1m in bets were made online, representing 89% of the state’s handle. Retail betting accounted for the remaining $12.4m.
William Hill topped the online market with $34.8m in online wagers, which yielded $229,427 in net receipts. DraftKings was second with $29.9m in online bets, generating a market-best $2.3m in revenue.
Ameristar Council Bluffs topped the retail market with $3.6m in wagers, netting $643,585 in revenue. Diamond Jo Worth was second with $3.4m in bets, producing $246,324 in revenue.
Russ Mitchell, lead analyst for PlayIA.com, noted: “Operators have been jockeying for market share since the beginning of the year, but the real test comes with the beginning of the football season. If operators put in place a solid strategy for reaching out to customers over the summer, the fruits of that labor will start to come in September.”
“As slow as the summer months have been, the growth over the last year in Iowa remains remarkable,” Mitchell continued. “Nearly $1bn in eight months represents a significant jump forward, and that growth should only accelerate over the next four months.”