The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reported a sports betting handle of nearly $118.4 million for April, marking the largest single month-to-month drop in terms of dollars since sports wagering became legal in the Hawkeye State in August 2019.
The handle was 26.7% lower compared to March’s record handle of $161.4 million and the lowest posted since $104.8 million was wagered in December 2020. The $43.1 million difference month-over-month exceeded the $37.3 million dip from February to March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered almost all of the sports world by mid-March.
The most likely explanation for the drop in handle is the end of the college sports season, with the NCAA tournament in March a highly attractive draw given the in-state popularity of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Operator revenue also took a tumble, dropping 42.6% from March’s all-time record high of nearly $13.5 million to slightly more than $7.7 million. That, however, was enough to push all-time operator revenue over the $100 million threshold to more than $101.1 million since sports betting went live in August 2019.
The hold of 6.53% was nearly two full percentage points lower compared to March (8.33%). The state collected $521,455 in tax receipts for April and more than $2.7 million over the first four months of the year compared to nearly $2.9 million for all of 2020.
Mobile wagering maintains popularity
More than 88% of April’s handle was generated via online wagering, the highest monthly percentage when not including the pandemic. Since the in-person registration provision sunset at the beginning of the year, the mobile handle has accounted for at least 80% of handle and surpassed $100 million in each of the first four months of 2021. The $104.5 million wagered via mobile devices in April pushed the all-time online handle over $1 billion.
In terms of online handle, William Hill‘s six properties combined to generate nearly $35.7 million for top honors in April. The three Wild Rose properties, which are powered by Kambi and operated by DraftKings and BetRivers, had nearly $34.3 million in bets. The two Diamond Jo venues, with FanDuel tethered to Dubuque and BetMGM to Worth, combined for more than $26.1 million in wagers.
Iowa's casinos spent nearly 12 weeks closed at the start of the pandemic. Even with the tables empty and slot machines off, gamblers still had opportunities to wager money. These including the lottery, mobile games and sports betting.https://t.co/W0jJvLqAKw
— Iowa's News Now (@iowasnewsnow) May 6, 2021
The Diamond Jo in Dubuque had the highest online handle of more than $17.9 million, followed by William Hill’s Isle Casino in Waterloo ($17.4 million) and Wild Rose in Jefferson ($15.8 million). Overall, five locations surpassed $10 million in online handle.
The Wild Rose properties, though, paced operator revenue with nearly $2.6 million among their three tethers, and the Jefferson location accounted for nearly half that amount with close to $1.2 million as the combined hold was 7.55%. FanDuel, however, had the highest online revenue at any one location as Diamond Jo in Dubuque totaled nearly $1.3 million.
William Hill generated more than $1.6 million in online revenue from its six properties due to a hold of just 4.55%, with its Prairie Meadows tether accounting for more than half that amount ($917,413).
Council Bluffs venues top retail draws
Only three of Iowa’s 18 sportsbooks cleared $1 million in retail handle, and two of them were located on the western side of the state in Council Bluffs near the Nebraska border. Ameristar Casino led all venues with nearly $3.7 million in handle, while Horseshoe Casino was third, finishing just shy of $2 million.
Let me gather the boys up, Steve. Iowa is next but maybe we can squeeze Illinois into the mix as well. No expansion news yet but the goal remains: “sports betting the way it should be” to all in this great country! pic.twitter.com/ZL0v5SeveD
— Jeffrey Benson (@JeffreyBenson12) May 4, 2021
Diamond Jo’s Worth location also cracked seven figures, slotting in second with more than $2.6 million. Those three locations were also the only ones to reach six figures in revenue, with Ameristar the top earner at $315,109.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Q Casino’s retail sportsbook paid out more in winnings than wagers accepted for the second time in three months. Bettors collected $667,281 in winnings, nearly $1,000 more than the Dubuque-based book accepted in wagers.