Buoyed by the hometown Hawkeyes reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament, Iowa set monthly records in both sports betting revenue and handle for the month of March according to figures released by the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission.
Operators collected more than $13.4 million in revenue, eclipsing the previous mark of $11.3 million established in January. Though the IRGC does not break out handle and revenue by sport, the presence of Iowa being a No. 2 seed in the West Region for March Madness undoubtedly helped sportsbooks’ cause given college basketball‘s signature event is one of the top two sporting events for betting in the United States during the calendar year.
The handle of over $161.4 million is also a new monthly standard, topping January’s benchmark of $149.5 million. The availability of remote registration since the start of the new year has played a vital role in increasing Iowa’s sports betting handle — the $385.3 million wagered via smartphone and/or computer in the first quarter of 2021 is nearly double the $197.3 million bet in the fourth quarter of 2020.
It is the sixth time in the last seven months Iowa has set a monthly record for handle.
Operators posted a win rate of 8.33% for March, nearly three full percentage points higher than February (5.37%). State tax coffers received $908,011 from operator revenue, the most in any month since the first bets were taken in the state in August 2019.
William Hill narrowly holds off Kambi; FanDuel surges
William Hill has long been the leading sportsbook in Iowa, but with the entrance of FanDuel last year coupled with BetRivers added to the Kambi platform with DraftKings, the British-based bookmaker’s market share has gradually lessened.
It held onto the top spot in terms of online handle for March, but just barely. William Hill’s six tie-ins across the state generated $43.9 million in March, edging out Kambi’s three Wild Rose properties by $214,107. The IRGC has yet to break out separate numbers for DraftKings and BetRivers, but the two books posted a combined online handle of nearly $43.7 million.
As those two platforms slugged it out for overall supremacy, FanDuel generated the highest handle tied to any one venue in March, nearly $28.2 million via Diamond Jo in Dubuque — the highest monthly total anywhere in Iowa since legal sports betting began. BetMGM, which entered Iowa at the start of the year, produced $9.5 million in handle at Diamond Jo’s other location in Worth, and cleared $21.2 million in the first quarter of 2021.
Overall, six venues reported an online handle of at least $10 million, including all three Wild Rose properties. Its Jefferson location joined Diamond Jo in Dubuque as the only ones to top $20 million, but its $20.5 million fell short of its all-time high of $21.6 million in January.
Prairie Meadows and Isle Casino in Waterloo accounted for most of William Hill’s online presence, combining for nearly $30.8 million in handle. PointsBet, through its retail partner at Catfish Bend, also set a monthly best for handle with nearly $5.7 million in wagers, and its $15.6 million in handle for the first three months of the year is 60% of its total handle since launching in November 2019.
In terms of online revenue, the Kambi-powered platforms took top honors with nearly $3.6 million across the Wild Rose venues, while the Diamond Jo properties claimed nearly $2.9 million as both its venues reached seven figures. William Hill finished with more than $2.3 million in revenue, with Prairie Meadows accounting for nearly $1.4 million of that total.
In addition to the top handle generated, Diamond Jo in Dubuque also was the top individual revenue producer at more than $1.8 million.
A robust month in retail, except at Prairie Meadows
As mobile sports wagering grew and accounted for more than 86% of the handle, retail operators fared quite well against those who opted for in-person betting as they posted a robust 14.14% win rate. Two operators in particular — Wild Rose in Emmetsburg and Lakeside Casino — cleaned up with win rates of 36.5% and 35.9%, respectively.
Diamond Jo’s Worth property produced the most retail operator revenue at $719,281 thanks to a 16.72% win rate. Only four of the 18 retail sportsbooks failed to post a double-digit win rate, and the overall damage to bettors could have been greater had they not ganged up on Prairie Meadows. Bettors there collected more than $1.22 million in winnings on $1.15 million in wagers, resulting in a -5.42% win rate at the state’s flagship casino.