What little sports betting handle Iowa saw in April was all mobile from existing users — new bettors would have had to register at the state’s casinos that have been closed since mid-March.
The handle in Iowa in April was $1,568,497, down 92% from March’s $19,576,985. The April mobile sports betting handle was $1,568,497, down 88.2% from March’s $13,316,068.
April sports betting revenue was $150,331, a decline of 87.2% from March’s $1,171,164, according to figures released by the Iowa Gaming Racing & Commission.
Casinos in Iowa have been shut down since March 17 by order of Gov. Kim Reynolds. Iowa did not have a stay-at-home order, but the governor had closed schools and retail establishments. Malls, retail stores and fitness centers were allowed to reopen May 8 in counties where they were still closed, according to the Associated Press. Capacity in the businesses that are reopening is limited to 50%.
Reynolds extended her order to keep Iowa’s commercial casinos closed through May 15. There are 19 Iowa commercial casinos.
Iowa won’t be the only state this month to see huge decline in their sports betting numbers with casinos and sports shut down across the country. But some casinos in the U.S. are beginning to reopen and some pro sports have either returned (UFC) or plan to return in the next month (NASCAR, PGA), giving hope that there will be more options for Iowa bettors.
Iowa Sports Betting Handle, April vs. March
|Change||Down 100%||Down 88.2%||Down 92%|
Esports Aren’t An Option
In addition to the in-person registration requirement, Iowa bettors do not have the option to wager on esports. Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission, told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that sports wagering in Iowa must involve physical sporting events, “and so esports had not been something that was approved.”
Ohorilo said the commission was given informal legal guidance that esports might not meet the statutory provisions of an authorized sporting event, according to a story in The Courier. Ohorilo did note that more research is being done to determine whether legislation that legalized sports wagering and fantasy sports in Iowa in 2019 allows sportsbooks to accept wagers on what it call an “other event.”
DraftKings and FanDuel launched their daily fantasy sports platforms in Iowa in October and November, respectively.
Because the Iowa law that requires the in-person registration doesn’t expire until Jan. 1, 2021, the state won’t be able to reach its full mobile potential the rest of the year. Mobile betting leaders in the U.S. market, such as New Jersey sportsbooks and their Pennsylvania counterparts, do not have the unwieldy registration requirement. Those states have seen 90% of their action from their mobile betting markets.
In addition to not having the registration requirement, some states have other online gaming options besides sports betting. Online casino gaming is legal in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Online poker sites are legal in those states plus Nevada. West Virginia and Michigan have legalized online casinos with launch dates scheduled for later this year.
A fellow Midwest state that reported its April numbers Monday, Indiana, had total handle of $26,304,128, down 64.8% from March’s $74,818,802. Just like Iowa, the entire handle in Indiana came from mobile, but Indiana doesn’t have the strict registration requirement.