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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The lure of fall football and enticing promotions by competing sportsbooks combined to generate a record $280.9 million in bets last month by Iowa gamblers.
Oct. data issued Thursday by the state Racing & Gaming Commission showed sports wagering hit a new monthly high since the activity became legal in August 2019, smashing the previous record in September by about $70 million.
The significant Oct. surge — aided by five weekends of professional and college football during the month — brought year-to-date wagering to $689.3 million for the current fiscal year that began July 1 and brought state tax revenue from the activity to nearly $1.81 million with October’s $514,642 collection on $6.56 million in net revenue for the licensed sportsbooks, said Racing and Gaming Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko
”We’re right in the thick of things right now in terms of the busiest time for sports operators,” he noted, with the professional hockey and NBA and college basketball all launching their 2021-22 seasons.
“We’re not really sure where the numbers will settle,” said Ohorilko. “It’s always possible that we could continue to see growth this fall and into the winter.”
According to PlayIA.com, an online network that analyzes the Iowa gaming market, Iowa’s sportsbooks collected more in bets over just the past three months, with $599.8 million, than the $575.2 million for all of 2020.
“With baseball’s postseason, the start of the NBA, and a calendar packed with football, bettors found so much to bet on,” said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIA.com. “Iowa has also made a significant leap forward in maturation as more operators launch and Iowans begin to feel more comfortable with online sports betting. A maturing market and busy sports calendar proved to be a powerful combination.”
In topping September’s record, Iowa bettors averaged $9.1 million per day during the month, an increase over the $2.6 million per day in Oct. 2020. According to PlayIA.com, Iowa sportsbooks have now accepted $2.3 billion in wagers since the Iowa Legislature approved and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the state law legalizing sports wagering in the state. Iowa currently has 16 online operators licensed by the state — the most per capita of any legal U.S. market — with more preparing to enter the market.
Net receipts so far in fiscal 2022 are approaching $28.6 million, with payouts for winning bets topping $662.7 million, according to commission data.
“Customers had a very good month,” said Ohorilko.
Online betting accounted for $249.9 million, or 89 percent, of October’s handle, while retail betting at state-licensed casinos stood at about $31 million.
“The enthusiasm over Iowa and Iowa State football waned a bit in Oct., but both are still drawing a lot of interest to the state’s sportsbooks,” said Russ Mitchell, lead analyst for PlayIA.com. “There won’t be another opportunity like the Cy-Hawk game featuring two Top 10 teams anytime soon, but on the whole, Iowa’s sports betting industry is in a great position headed into the final months of 2021.”
The records weren’t only happening in the sports betting arena.
On the casino side, Oct. was another strong month with Iowa’s 19 state-licensed casinos reporting more than $151.6 million in adjusted gross revenue during a month with over 1.5 million patron admissions. State tax collections last month topped $30.65 million, bringing the year-to-date total to $112.3 million based on gross adjusted revenue of $593.9 million since July 1. A total of nearly 6.2 million patron admissions were recorded at the 19 gambling establishments during the current fiscal year, according to commission reports posted Thursday.
“We’re seeing numbers right now that are significantly higher than anything we’ve seen before,” said Ohorilko. “Business has been very good for the casinos and we’re continuing to see good numbers.”
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