By now, those that follow the US legal sports betting industry know of the struggles sportsbooks in participating jurisdictions have during the typically lean summer months. A good example is Iowa, traditionally one of the more reliable markets in the country. June marked their third straight month of handle declines with the realistic potential that July and August could extend the unflattering streak.
But like a number of sports betting jurisdictions in May, Iowa’s June offered up some good news alongside the bad. June was the fifth straight month that the Iowa legal sports betting scene eclipsed the $100 million-mark. A surge in revenues also accompanied the downturn in overall betting activity, contributing to a head-scratching trend from May that saw over half of states with handle decreases experiencing revenue bumps.
Figuring Out the Figures
Three straight months of handle declines puts the Iowa legal sports betting industry in an official slump. Although June’s backstep isn’t all that drastic, it did extend the streak of month-to-month losses for the industry on the whole.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reported a $111.2 million legal sports betting handle for June which is a slight 3.2% step back from the $114.9 million handle the state’s sportsbooks took in during May. June’s handle shows just how much of a factor the seasonal slowdown has affected betting activity in Iowa – their record-handle came in January and was $161.4 million.
Daily betting figures remained relatively flat month-to-month. In May and June, Iowa sportsbooks took in an almost identical $3.7 million per day.
Revenues, Taxes and Mobile
Iowa’s sports betting revenues were a nice surprise considering the losses experienced in the state’s overall handle. The Buckeye State books made an impressive $8.4 million in June, a healthy 37.3% spike from the $6.1 million in profits reported in May.
Revenue increases can be traced back to an unforeseen 2% jump in casinos’ hold-rate which sprung from 5.3% in May to 7.6% in June.
State and local coffers benefitted to the tune of $568,501 in tax contributions siphoned from those profits.
Unsurprisingly, it was Iowa’s mobile betting platform that made up the bulk of the state’s overall handle. $95.1 million, or 85.6% of the $111.2 million overall legal sports betting handle came from wagering apps. Iowa’s retail sports betting sector contributed about $16 million – a jump of $1 million from May.
June Was the End of Iowa’s Fiscal Year and…
Legal sports betting numbers for Iowa’s fiscal year that ended in June, despite the intense effects that COVID-19 had on the casino industry have to be viewed as a win.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission June report allowed us to add up the totals for the 12-month period and they didn’t disappoint. A total of $1.22 billion was taken in by the state’s sportsbooks during the fiscal year, $90 million in gross gaming revenues were reported and $6.1 million in tax revenue was generated for needy state and local programs.
“The year brought significant challenges to Iowa’s sportsbooks, which made the results all the more impressive,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIA.com. “The best news is that with the pandemic’s effects on the industry waning, and online registration firmly in place, the last year is only a glimpse of Iowa’s true potential.”
Crystal Ball Time
The state of Iowa isn’t expected to see much of a bump in their legal sports betting handle until the fall – September to be precise when the NFL kicks of what is sure to be another bread-and-butter betting season and college football returns to betting menus.
“With a lighter sports schedule and few local betting events to spur interest, Iowa won’t see significant growth in betting again until the football season,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIA.com. “But there is no question that the Hawkeye State is in good position, poised for a fall expansion when Iowa, Iowa State, and the NFL once again draw bettors to sportsbooks.”
Bally Bet created a little bit of hype with their June launch and a rumored 888 Holdings/Sports Illustrated sportsbook coming soon may generate a little more buzz. But it looks as though Iowa is stuck in the summer doldrums until fall.
As for the rest of the US legal sports betting industry, it looks as though June may be a tough month. Iowa was the fourth jurisdiction to report – all so far have experienced handle declines.