efore Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ green light for Iowa’s 19 state-licensed casinos to reopen this month, gamblers took advantage of limited online wagering opportunities on NASCAR, Ultimate Fighting, German soccer and a few other minor sporting contests to bet nearly $6.98 million in May. These numbers are known after the Iowa legislature voted to forbid the use of credit cards for wagering on sporting events through Iowa-based casinos.
The slow resumption of gambling under strict social distancing measures due to COVID-19 enabled Iowa’s casinos to generate net receipts topping $501,000 last month after paying out $6.48 million in winnings, according to Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission data.
Since the state legalized sports wagering on Aug. 15, Iowans have bet $355.3 million on sporting events — much of it during the fall and winter months of professional and college football and basketball — until the coronavirus pandemic shut down sporting events worldwide, the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier reports.
Iowa’s casinos have made $25.1 million on sports betting after paying out winnings since August, with $13.1 million coming from online betting and the remainder from in-person wagering at casinos. The new gaming activity has generated $1.75 million in state tax.
Overall, Iowa’s state-licensed casino gambling industry has hovered at just over $1 billion in adjusted gross revenue for the current fiscal year, which began July 1. May’s meager sports betting brought the total to nearly $1.05 billion with one month remaining until the books are closed June 30.
All but two of the 19 casinos have reopened, said state commission administrator Brian Ohorilko. The casino gambling industry in Iowa is down about 21 percent compared with last year’s first 11 months. By comparison, Iowa’s casinos licensed by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission took in nearly $1.457 billion last fiscal year. The fiscal 2019 total was down about a half of a percent from nearly $1.464 billion in gross adjusted revenue for fiscal 2018 and short of the record of nearly $1.47 billion in gross adjusted revenue set in fiscal 2012.
As for the new clause in the sports betting legislation that bans credit cards, it was not a term that was initially made within the law for sports betting but has now been established. Senator Tony Bisignano of Des Moines said: “If you want you lose your paycheck, that’s fine. I don’t know how long you get away with that from your family, but with a credit card, you can run a debt that can’t possibly be paid and so I thank the body for clarifying that.”
And he added: “We never did legalize it, but it got to be interpreted by fantasy sports that they have been using credit cards and this body has spoken.”