Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale gave some spring to Iowa‘s little guys in July.
The Texas-based furniture magnate’s two $1 million futures wagers on the Houston Astros to win the World Series through Unibet and Betfred contributed to a sports wagering revenue surge in the Hawkeye State, according to figures released by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on Thursday.
Those two bets contributed to a dramatic upswing in statewide revenue among operators, who combined to produce nearly $11.2 million from $108.6 million wagered. The 10.3% overall hold is the fifth-highest in 36 months of wagering in Iowa and also the fifth time the win rate cracked double digits. Minus those two bets, the state’s win rate drops to 8.9%
McIngvale’s wagers, the likes of which he makes regularly to hedge his Texas stores’ furniture giveaways, helped revenue rise 70.1% compared to June. It offset the 11.3% drop in handle, as the bets also spiked the win rate nearly five full percentage points higher and combined to generate more than $2.1 million in revenue from close to $2.8 million bet.
The state collected more than $750,000 in taxes for June, lifting the total to more than $5.4 million for the year. That is more than $1.2 million ahead of last year’s pace through seven months, as handle has increased 47.4% compared to the same period in 2021, while revenue has surged 29.3% higher. With three full years of wagering complete, operators in the Hawkeye State have accepted more than $4.1 billion in bets, including $1.3 billion in 2022.
Historic month for Unibet and Betfred
Thank you @BetfredSports and @JasonSylva_ for being so accommodating and taking a 2 $MILLION$ dollar bet for our Houston @Astros to Win It All in 2022 bringing GF's total wagers to TEN MILLION dollars! If the @Astros Win It All, you get *2X* your money back! Store for details!
— @MattressMack (@MattressMack) July 24, 2022
Both Unibet and Betfred are on the hook for substantial payouts if the Astros do win the World Series, as McIngvale’s bets — both made at +500 — are unlike anything the two books have fielded while operating in Iowa.
Unibet had generated just $35,008 in revenue from the first six months of 2022 and $160,013 in its first 10 months of business in Iowa after launching late last year. McIngvale’s bet represented 88% of its handle for July and is slightly more than 20% of its all-time handle in the state.
Betfred, which entered the state in July 2020, had claimed only $26,625 this year prior to July and came within $35,040 of matching its revenue for all of 2021, when nearly $8.3 million was bet. Mattress Mack’s million-dollar play amounted to 61% of Betfred’s handle for the month and 22.5% of its 2022 handle to date.
The wagers also lifted the two lightweights into the unfamiliar spotlight of mobile sportsbooks reaching seven figures in revenue. Regulars FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars Sportsbook were all in that group, with FanDuel pacing mobile revenue with more than $2.5 million. DraftKings was close behind at $2.4 million, but took top honors for handle at nearly $26.6 million — $410,352 more than FanDuel.
Caesars grabbed the final podium spots for both revenue and handle, claiming more than $1.4 million from $21.8 million handle, as its 6.5% hold marked just the second time in 18 months it cleared a 6% win rate. BetMGM was the only other operator with an eight-figure handle at $10.8 million, and the overall mobile handle was just shy of $98.4 million. The 10.3% win rate — it would have been 8.4% without McIngvale’s bets — for mobile operators was the highest since reaching 11.2% in October 2020.
Wild disparities in retail wagering
For brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, the overall hold was a strong 10.5%, as the house raked in nearly $1.1 million from a $10.2 million handle. But results at the state’s 19 casinos varied greatly.
Ameristar and Horseshoe in Council Bluffs posted double-digit win rates, as the former casino’s sportsbook paced all retail outlets with close to $350,000 in revenue from a 15.3% win rate. Horseshoe’s win rate was even higher at 17.65%, claiming nearly $177,000 from slightly more than $1 million wagered. Diamond Jo in Worth, one of the larger retail books, had a more pedestrian 6.3% hold from a state-high $3.7 million handle, resulting in more than $233,000 in revenue.
Overall, 11 retail sportsbooks had win rates of at least 10%, including three above 20% — but three also finished in the red for July. Wild Rose in Clinton suffered the heaviest loss of the month, as bettors came out $24,081 ahead on $104,304 wagered, resulting in a -23.1% win rate.
Since the sunset of in-person registration at the end of 2020, mobile betting has been the primary driver of handle. More than 89% of handle the past 19 months has originated online, with the percentage currently 90.5% for 2022.
Operators surpassed the $250 million mark in all-time revenue with July’s report, with more than $80 million coming this year. Even with the strong hold in July, the overall win rate of nearly 6.2% after three years of wagering is still well off the industry standard of 7%, with operators hitting that benchmark just 16 times in 36 attempts.