DES MOINES — Iowa gamblers doubled down on sports wagering last month, placing $46.5 million in bets. That pushed the overall handle to $93.6 million since such betting became legal in mid-August.
Figures released by the state Racing and Gaming Commission show wagering at the 18 state-licensed casinos currently offering sports betting increased from nearly $38.53 million in September.
Nearly $51.4 million was wagered online using apps offered by seven casinos — including the Isle Hotel Casino Waterloo — and $42.2 million in person at casinos.
In addition to Waterloo, gamblers can place bets online through casinos in Altoona, Bettendorf, Davenport, Larchwood, Osceola and Riverside. The Casino Queen in Marquette is the only state sanctioned casino without a sports betting license.
“I think Iowa has a lot more potential to unlock,” said Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business for the Gambling.com Group, a marketing company in the sports betting industry.
The state has an immature market that will expand significantly as more casinos offer online betting.
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“I fully expect there to be a lot more mobile operators than just seven,” said Bichsel, who business provides sports betting tips, picks and expert commentary. “That’s really an inhibitor to growth and really getting the numbers up there in the hundreds of millions versus the tens of millions in terms of handle.”
Iowa’s decision to require in-casino registration for mobile sports betting apps is hindering online action compared with other states, he said.
That requirement will end Jan. 1, 2021, under legislation approved last session. Now Iowans have to travel to a licensed casino to establish an online account. While some casinos offer sports betting only on site, Wes Ehrecke of the Iowa Gaming Association — an umbrella group for the 19 licensed casinos in Iowa — said he expected more will adopt mobile apps.
“It’s my understanding there will be a few more before the end of the year or even by the end of the month, just to get that technology worked out with the apps to have to be able to offer the online. I think that will certainly make a difference,” said Ehrecke.
Overall adjusted gross revenue from sports betting — accounting for winner payouts — grew from $4.9 million in September to $5.6 million in October and stood at $12.78 million for the year to date, according to commission data. Sports betting has brought in $861,846 of state tax revenue based upon a tax rate of 6.75 percent.
And the growth in sports betting does not appear to be coming at the expense of other gambling. In July, August and September, overall casino gambling numbers were up about 7 percent compared with the same quarter a year ago.