The Iowa sports betting industry is already off to a great start in 2021, but there could be even bigger changes on the way. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission oversees and regulates the sports betting industry, and they want to see it expand.
The IRGC submitted a rule change near the end of 2020 that would allow casinos to offer a third sports betting skin. Casinos are currently limited to just two of these skins, but the IRGC believes that additional skin is needed.
The Legislature Administrative Rules Review Committee is set to hear the proposal on Friday, and quick action could be taken if the measure goes through. A third sports betting casino skin could become available as early as March 10, but it will take these properties longer than that to get a partnership in place.
There are just 11 sports betting operators currently taking bets in Iowa, and 18 of the 19 casinos are represented. Even though that is a large number for the state the size of Iowa, there would be additional interest plenty of other operators if casinos could add an additional skin.
Mobile Registration Brings Boost
One of the biggest reasons that Iowa failed to see limited growth in the sports betting industry was due to the in-person registration requirement that was in place until Jan. 1. Some sports bettors were unwilling to travel to a casino to create a sports betting account, or they only signed up at one location.
The January sports betting handle was $149.5 million, which was an increase of more than 42 percent from December 2020. The only major difference in the state was the registration option, and this could set the stage for record-setting numbers throughout 2021.
Illinois Still Leading Midwest
Illinois sports betting didn’t officially launch until March 9, 2020, and it was another couple of months before online betting options were available. It hasn’t taken Illinois long to become the leader in the Midwest and the fourth-largest sports betting market in the US.
Illinois is nearing the $500 million mark for monthly sports betting handle, doubling what Iowa has been able to achieve. The Land of Lincoln has an in-person registration requirement in place, but Governor JB Pritzker has issued an Executive Order to allow remote registration.
A Big Run For Hawkeyes?
While some states have limits in place for collegiate sporting events, that is not the case in Iowa. This is because Iowa is not home to any major professional sports teams, so the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones are huge betting markets.
The Hawkeyes are one of the best college basketball teams in the country this season, and that could provide a huge boost to sports betting in the coming months. Iowa is currently listed at +1800 to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament, and they will be a popular futures pick.
Retail sportsbooks should also see a huge increase in traffic over the next few weeks as bettors will flock to these establishments to place bets and watch the games live.