$233M in bets

Iowa posts sports betting handle up 44% in March driven by college basketball

March Madness 2022 Final Four game.
Reading time 1:51 min

Sports betting remained strong in March in Iowa, based on figures released on Friday by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC). Sportsbooks operating in the Hawkeye State took in $233.5 million in bets last month, with betting activity driven by March Madness.

Betting volume for March was up 8.2% month-over-month when compared to the $215.9 million wagered in February. Additionally, it was significantly up from the $161.4 million handle delivered in March 2021, a 44.7% year-over-year increase.

“March Madness is typically the busiest non-football month of the year in the sports betting industry, and Iowa did not disappoint,” said Russ Mitchell, lead analyst for PlayIA.com. “Sportsbooks also got a significant boost from the state’s schools.”

Iowa’s men and women won the Big Ten Conference tournaments and received automatic NCAA Tournament bids. Iowa State’s basketball teams also reached the Sweet 16 in both editions of March Madness. “That generated significant enthusiasm statewide, and showed in March’s wagering patterns,” Mitchell explains.

Most sports bets in the state -$208.2 million, or 89.1%- were placed online, while sportsbooks generated $972,991 in tax revenue for the state last month. Additionally, they posted $14.4 million in revenue, which was up 6.7% from March a year ago.

DraftKings ranked first in the online market, with $64.9 million in wagers and $2.8 million in revenue. It was followed by Caesars, with $49 million in bets and $2.2 million in revenue; while FanDuel placed third at $47.5 million in handle, but ranked first for revenue at $3.7 million.

While March Madness attracted plenty of attention from sports bettors in the state, the football season still remains the landmark event of the betting industry. NFL action helped Iowa deliver a record high of $303.3 million in January.

“Sportsbooks typically slow after March, even with the NBA playoffs, baseball, and major golf tournaments,” said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network. “But Iowa’s industry is on excellent footing heading into the slower summer months, and is poised for another big jump forward this fall when football returns.”

PlayIA.com further predicts monthly totals in 2022 “should continue to outpace their corresponding months in 2021,” as customers in the state are more comfortable with sports gaming as an entertainment option. Additionally, new operators are seeking to enter the state, adding more product offerings for fans.

Meanwhile, general gaming at the state’s 19 licensed casinos saw wagering down 1.7% over March of 2021. Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, said that the slight dip is not a surprise because 2021 was such a strong year for gaming revenue, according to The Gazette. He also said that, with just three months remaining, gaming revenue in the fiscal year is up roughly 17%.

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