End of NFL season is high point for sports betting in Iowa
DES MOINES — Sports betting is now legal in 36 states, including Iowa and experts are predicting the betting on the Super Bowl is going to double what it was last year.
Iowa Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko says the regular season and playoffs are key for sports books. “Football season, both professional and collegiate football, are very popular, not only in Iowa, but across the country. And so sports books really rely on this particular time period to really drive their revenue for the year,” Ohorilko says.
He says sports betting has been strong again this football season, but could be leveling off from a record year. “We are seeing a decline year over year from last year, I think most of that is likely due to just the decrease in promotional offerings that we’re seeing at a number of facilities for a number of sports books,” he says.
Those promotions came as new companies were trying to find their market in Iowa. The rush to get up and running for sports books has turned into some consolidation. “We’re not seeing new companies applying for licenses. In fact, what we are seeing are companies being bought out or companies not operating, and we had three of those this year,” he says. “And so, we are maybe seeing a little bit of retraction in the market. But at the end of the day though, those four or five companies that have been strong continue to be strong and are really kind of driving this market.”
With everything settling in, Ohorilko says this year is likely to be a good benchmark for the future of the industry. “This particular year, August of 2022, through the summer of 2023 will be the best indicator of what to expect in the future,” he says. “And there will always be circumstances that will change. Sports betting by nature is pretty volatile in terms of revenue. But I think handle will start to become more predictable, based on the numbers from this year.”
He says the next two months wrap up the heaviest betting seasons. “Obviously, the Super Bowl will be very popular, and we will see kind of a decline, but then college basketball season, especially March Madness with all the conference tournaments, and the NCAA tournament will be very popular. So March will be another strong solid month and then once baseball season starts up, things really cool off,” Ohorilko says.
Sportsbooks began operating in Iowa in August 2019.