he Hawkeye State's sportsbooks continue to reap significant benefits of no in-person registration requirements, according to analysts for PlayIA, which tracks regulated online and retail gaming in the state.
"Iowa remains perhaps the most compelling case study yet on the effects of in-person registration requirements," said Jessica Welman, an analyst for PlayIA.com. "February is a short month with only one NFL game to bet on, the Super Bowl, so the relatively flat month-over-month results can be misleading on the surface. But another strong showing still places Iowa in a class of states that are either larger or have far more mature gaming markets. And that would not be possible under the old requirements."
Online and retail sportsbooks generated $143.6 million in wagers in February, according to official data released Friday. That is down 3.9% from the record $149.5 million handle in January. But betting per day in the 28 days of the month was a record $5.1 million, which was up from the $4.8 million per day bet in the 31 days of January.
February's handle pushed Iowa's lifetime handle to $1.1 billion, surpassing an eye-catching milestone.
The biggest reason for the two-month surge is the removal of in-person registration requirements in January. In fact, FanDuel reported new customer registrations multiplied by nearly a factor of seven from December to January, a direct result of the easing of registration requirements.
Net receipts for sportsbooks did fall 32% month over month, to $7.7 million in February from $11.3 million in January. The month's revenue still yielded $520,444 in state taxes.
The Super Bowl brought in $16.2 million in wagers, most of which came in February. Bookmakers also benefited from robust interest in men's college basketball, particularly No. 5 Iowa and Drake, which sits just outside the Top 25.
"When local teams enjoy strong seasons, as both Iowa and Drake are, interest in betting on their games goes up. We see that in every regulated sports betting market in the U.S.," said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayIA.com. "With March Madness on the horizon, more growth almost certainly lies ahead. And sportsbooks should get an even bigger boost if Iowa or Drake can manage a prolonged run in the NCAA Tournament."
For the month, online sports betting accounted for $143.6 million, or 87.2%, of the state's overall handle. Iowa's first online operator in August 2019, William Hill and its multiple license partners, retook the online market lead with $45.2 million in online wagers in February. The Wild Rose license, which is anchored by DraftKings but includes BetRivers, took in $38.9 million in online wagers and $1.5 million net receipts.
Retail betting generated $18.4 million, down from $28.8 million. Ameristar topped retailers with $4.5 million in wagers.
"William Hill is still proving that early entry into a market is critically important," Welman said. "But DraftKings and FanDuel are investing heavily in Iowa, and with their brand recognition, they are seeing a rapid return on that investment. We'll see how long William Hill is able to hold them off."