The Hawkeye State came to play in September as the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reported a record monthly sports betting handle of more than $210.4 million.
Aided by both the start of the NFL season and the state’s flagship college football program, the Iowa Hawkeyes, getting off to a hot state that has them currently ranked No. 3 in the country, September’s figure was nearly double August’s handle of $108.4 million and shattered the previous record of $161.4 million set in March.
September’s handle also propelled Iowa past the $1 billion mark in handle for 2021, making it the 10th state to cross that threshold for the year. Iowa is now positioned less than $6 million shy of $2 billion in cumulative handle since launching sports wagering in August 2019.
Operators, however, could not turn the surge in handle into a surge in revenue, as they posted a 2.72% win rate and collected $5.7 million in revenue — their lowest total of the year. It was the lowest monthly hold percentage reported in any state this year and just the ninth to fall below 5%. It is also the second-lowest win rate in Iowa history, with only the 1.3% hold in February 2020 — heavily impacted by the Kansas City Chiefs winning Super Bowl LIV — worse.
The state collected $512,951 in tax revenue for September, raising the total for 2021 to slightly less than $5.2 million, and putting Iowa at more than $9.3 million since launch.
Brick and mortar saves the day for operators
Retail sportsbooks usually post a higher win rate than online wagering, and Iowa’s 19 casinos prevented September from being a rout by bettors. They collected more than $4.2 million in revenue — nearly 74% of the overall total — on $23.9 million in wagers, posting a healthy 17.7% win rate.
Diamond Jo in Worth was the first retail sportsbook in state history to clear $1 million in monthly revenue, finishing at $1,030,204 on the strength of an 18.9% win rate. Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs narrowly missed joining Diamond Jo, ringing up $989,617 in profits from just over $6 million in bets for a 16.5% hold.
Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs also set a monthly record for revenue at $641,594, while Riverside Casino was the lone venue in the state to fail to post a double-digit win rate. It had a 5.6% hold on $665,252 worth of wagers, collecting $36,971 in revenue.
The retail handle was the second-highest total of the year, with January’s $28.8 million still the benchmark.
DraftKings in red, Caesars barely breaks even
The mobile handle of over $186.5 million for September accounted for 88.5% of the overall betting volume and easily blew past the old monthly record of $139.4 million in March. DraftKings and Caesars alone nearly matched the March mobile handle by generating $131.3 million worth of wagers between them, but bettors crowned DraftKings in September as they finished more than $1.9 million ahead of the house on close to $66.8 million wagered.
It was the first losing month for DraftKings in Iowa since it entered the state in February 2020, the largest monthly loss of any mobile operator in state history, and only the fourth time in the 26 months of wagering a mobile operator posted a monthly loss. By comparison, bettors came out ahead by a combined $22,786 on the other three occurrences — Q Casino posting mobile losses in May and November of 2020 and theScore finishing $12,340 in the red in May.
Caesars scratched out a $749 profit on $66.5 million wagered for a 0.0011% win rate. FanDuel, meanwhile, accounted for most of the mobile operator revenue in the Hawkeye State as it collected nearly $1.8 million on close to $27 million wagered for a respectable 6.5% win rate.
BetMGM reached eight figures in handle for the first time since launching in January, accepting $12.3 million in wagers. Unibet, which is tethered to Harrah’s in Council Bluffs, generated $516,336 in its initial month of online operations.