The month of September proved to be a fascinating one for Iowa in the world of sports betting, and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reported a state-record $210.4 million sports betting handle for the month. The NFL season kicked off and brought a ton of new bettors to the market. At the same time, there has been significant betting interest in Iowa’s 5-0 start to the college football season that has included big conference wins over Indiana and Iowa State. Circa Sports launched the 13th mobile betting platform in Iowa this week, and as the market continues to grow and evolve, this record month could be eclipsed in due time.
Record Sports Betting Numbers Established
Iowa’s September sports betting handle increased by 94.1% from the August handle of $108.4 million and increased 190.7% from $72.4 million in September 2020. The previous record for sports betting handle in Iowa had been $161.4 million in March 2021; September beat this mark by 30.3%. September also pushed Iowa past $1 billion in 2021 total sports betting handle, making it the tenth state to cross that threshold this year. Since launching in August 2019, Iowa has just under $2 billion in the cumulative handle.
Despite Record Handle, Revenue Suffers
While September brought significant success for Iowa in terms of total sports betting handle generated, the state collected just $5.7 million in revenue, its lowest total of the year. That minimal revenue came as many Iowa residents placed wagers on the Iowa football team posted a 4-0 record straight up and 3-1 against the spread in September. Iowa’s hold rate dropped to just 2.72% in September, the lowest monthly hold percentage in any state in any month this year and the second-lowest rate in Iowa’s sports betting history. Iowa’s September 2021 results were also the ninth time ever that a state had a hold rate below 5%.
Mobile Sportsbooks Struggle
Mobile sportsbooks had a handle of $186.5 million in September, accounting for 88.5% of the overall sports betting handle and far surpassed the former monthly record of $139.4 million in March. However, mobile sportsbooks saw just $1.5 million in revenue, just 26% of the overall total. DraftKings collected $66.8 million in wagers, narrowly edging out Caesars for the top sportsbook in the state. Still, DraftKings lost $1.9 million to bettors and had its first losing month since entering the market in February 2020. Caesars collected just $749 in profit on $66.5 million wagered, suitable for an 0.0011% win rate.
FanDuel didn’t have the same woes as it generated $1.8 million in revenue on $27 million wagered for a 6.5% win rate. BetMGM reached eight figures in betting handle for the first time in Iowa as it saw $12.3 million in wagers and continues to grow into a larger market share. Unibet generated $516,336 in handle in its first month of online operations. DraftKings and Caesars dominate the Iowa market for the time being.
Retail Sportsbooks Save the State
While mobile sportsbooks struggled to generate revenue despite a massive overall handle, retail sportsbooks saw the inverse situation. Retail sportsbooks collected $23.9 million in wagers and generated almost $4.2 million in revenue, good for a 17.7% win rate. The retail handle in the state was the second-highest of the year behind January’s $28.8 million. Diamond Jo in Worth became the first retail sportsbook in Iowa history to clear $1 million in monthly revenue. In comparison, Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs trailed just behind with just under $1 million in revenue.
It’s infrequent for retail sportsbooks to far surpass mobile sportsbooks in revenue given the typical disparity in total sports betting handle, but that’s what happened in Iowa in September, adding to the mystique of a particularly unorthodox month of sports betting.