Iowa Posts Record Sports Betting Handle & Revenue in March

Iowa Posts Record Sports Betting Handle & Revenue in March
© USA Today

Following a short month in February and the end of the NFL season, Iowa sportsbooks bounced back in March to tally sports betting handle and revenue records.

The total sports betting handle in Iowa for March came in at $161.4 million, which is up 12.4% from February’s total of $143.6 million and a substantial increase of 724.6% from March 2020’s $19.6 million, according to figures posted Thursday by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

The previous record for handle had been January’s $149.5 million after in-person registration at Iowa’s casinos ended on Jan. 1.

Total sports betting revenue in March came in at a record $13.5 million, a 74.5% increase from February’s $7.7 million and up 946.8% from $1.2 million in March 2020 -- the month when when casinos began to shut down because of concerns related to the spread of COVID-19.

The record numbers can be attributed to the NCAA Tournament. This year's college basketball tourney was the first in which Iowans could legally wager. The coronavirus pandemic canceled last year’s tournament.

Sportsbooks cleaned up on any Iowa residents who decided to back the Hawkeyes. Iowa failed to cover in its first-round win over Grand Canyon and was blown out as a favorite by Oregon in the second round.

In addition to the single-game losses, all of Iowa’s future tickets were graded as a loss, too.

Iowa Sports Betting Revenue & Handle, March vs. February

Total HandleMobile Handle Revenue
March$161.440M$139.389M$13.454M
February$143.615M$125.218M$7.708M
Change Up 12.4%Up 11.3% Up 74.5%

Online Numbers, Taxes to State

Iowa also tallied a record online sports betting handle with $139.4 million, up 11.3% from February’s $125.2 million and an increase of 946.8% from March 2020’s $13.3 million.

All 18 casinos in Iowa that allow sports bets now have mobile sports wagering. Ameristar II added it in February of this year to become the last of Iowa’s casinos to feature mobile sports betting.

For March, Iowa made $908,011 in state tax, which was a considerable increase from the $520,444 in February.

Going Forward

It will be interesting to see how sports betting in Iowa continues with no NFL or college basketball. Still, there will still be sports that draw betting interest. The Masters started on Thursday and remains one of the marquee events of the year, while the MLB is now fully underway. Hoops fans still have the NBA, too.

There are hopeful signs already in 2021 for Iowa. BettHouse, a tech start-up company founded last year and based in Las Vegas, expects to launch in Iowa in April. It also said it expects expansion to four states by the end of 2021, but did not identify the new states.

TheScore Bet launched in Iowa on Feb. 16, giving the Canadian sportsbook operator four active states. TheScore Bet secured market access in Iowa through an agreement with Penn National Gaming.

In addition, casinos in Iowa can add a third sports betting skin after the state's Administrative Rules Review Committee recently approved the rule change. It went into effect on March 10.

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