Iowa Casinos Approved to Add Third Sports Betting Skin

Iowa Casinos Approved to Add Third Sports Betting Skin
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More sports betting options are in Iowa’s future.

Casinos in Iowa can add a third sports betting skin after the state's Administrative Rules Review Committee on Friday approved the standard filing request from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC). Iowa had permitted casinos to have two skins, but the IRGC had been attempting to legalize another since the fall of 2020 when the committee first submitted the rule change.

Now that it's been approved, Iowa casinos can add a third skin effective March 10.

“We have one operator that is already committed to that third skin," IRGC Administrator Brian Ohorilko said. "But other than that, most of our other operators in Iowa just have one or two. We’ve actually seen most of the operators enter into agreements for their second individually-branded website.”

Iowa has 11 sports companies licensed in the state. There are 19 casinos, with 18 offering online sports wagering. Ohorilko said there are also 11 other companies that have entered into agreements with casinos that have either not started the licensing process or are in different stages of getting approved.

A third skin gives Iowans more betting options in the future.

“One benefit is for our customers,” Ohorilko said. “The customers will have additional options. They’ll be able to find a product that fits them. Maybe it’s a company that offers certain types of wagers that they like, or maybe it’s a company that offers competitive odds. It could be a company that offers certain types of promotions or marketing that they also enjoy. It’ll be a very competitive market in Iowa.”

In addition to giving players more choices to play at, a third skin will allow the casinos to have a greater revenue share, plus the additional fee to enter into the market. Iowa has a $45,000 licensing fee for new sportsbooks that want to start operating in the state.

“There are some benefits for the facilities as well,” Ohorilko said.

End of In-Person Registration Requirement Gives Boost

The in-person registration requirement for Iowa online sports wagering ended on Jan. 1. As a result, the sports betting handle and revenue saw increased totals in January compared to December.

The total sports betting handle in January was $149.5 million, an increase of 42.7% from December’s total of $104.8 million and a substantial 157% raise from the January 2020 total of $58 million.

Online sports betting made up $120.7 million of the handle, which was a 54.7% increase from December’s $78.1 million and 256% higher than the January 2020 mobile handle of $33.8 million.

“That was a significant increase that we had not experienced since we had started regulating and monitoring online sports wagering in Iowa,” Ohorilko said. “Most people would say or believe that was because of with remote registration, it had opened up markets for customers that they had previously not been able to reach.

“The other factor was we saw significant increases in marketing as companies were trying everything could, offering generous promotions to get customers to sign up for their particular app.”

On Feb. 16, theScore Bet went live in Iowa, giving the Canadian sportsbook operator four active states. The mobile sportsbook is also taking bets in Colorado, Indiana and New Jersey. TheScore Bet secured market access in Iowa through its multi-state framework agreement with Penn National Gaming.