The first year of legal sports betting in the state has been largely deemed a success considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
US.- Iowa was one of the states to capitalise on the opening of legal sports betting in the US, implementing legal wagering on professional and collegiate sporting events.from August 15 2019.
Despite the hit of the coronavirus pandemic, the state of just 3.16 million people wagered over $400m in the first 12 months of legal betting.
That generated roughly $30 million for its 19 state-licensed casinos, which was all the more welcome to help offset the impact of the 11-week closure due to the pandemic.
Sports betting was, of course, also hit by the pandemic due the cancellation of major sports events and closure of gambling facilities.
Sportsbook revenues fell by 87.2 per cent month-on-month from March to April due to the impact.
Brian Ohorilko, administrator for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, said: “I think most of the operators were happy. I don’t think anyone who was close to the industry expected significant numbers. I think the goal all along was to have another profit center that was popular to customers and maybe would attract some new customers.”
Despite the impact of the pandemic, the $400m wagered on sports during the first year of sports betting was not so far off the $560m that analysts had estimated. The state had predicted tax revenues generated would reach roughly $1.8 million.
Wes Ehrecke, spokesman for the Iowa Gaming Association, said: “It’s difficult to gauge what expectations could or should have been when we had an unprecedented year like we had.
“It was very unfortunate that just when it was hitting its stride and coming off the football season and ready for March Madness and the conference tournaments and everything got shut down. There wasn’t any sports to wager on — professional or collegiate in the U.S. or the U.K. because of the coronavirus.”
Some stakeholders in the industry have criticised the obligatory in-person registration rule for preventing those who live in rural Iowa from registering at a casino in time before closures began.