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Sports gambling still has potential ahead

Sports betting kiosk at Diamond Jo Worth casino near Northwood

DES MOINES — The first full fiscal year of sports gambling in Iowa will wrap up at the end of June with no real gauge yet on how much money it will bring in.

Iowa Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko says January, February and March saw a lot of activity. “We saw significant marketing at levels that we’ve never seen in the state of Iowa for sports wagering and maybe even casino gambling. It was a very competitive environment…and so those three months were very, very good,” he says.

Those months came as things were opening back up following the pandemic and after the rule requiring gamblers to sign up at a casino were lifted. Wagering dropped in April by some 53 million dollars compared to March — and May was down around four-and-a-half million from April. “A lot of that is simply due to the fact that the popular activities that people like to wager on –football, N-C-A-A basketball — those events are over. So, we are kind of going into that slow period,” Ohorilko says.

Ohorilko says last fall wasn’t a good gauge of sports betting as football teams cut back games due to COVID. “There will be more wagering opportunities simply because there will be more games, more non-conference games, more games that people are interested in,” according to Ohorilko. “So, definitely with increased games and betting opportunities, I think it is reasonable to assume that we will see numbers increase.”

Ohorilko says the options for betters continue to increase. ┬áHe says they have a number of new companies licensed to take bets has increase and he anticipates a lot of marketing and promotions aimed at gamblers. “All of that should play into a good fall — at least probably numbers that are much better than what we have previously seen,” he says.

Sports gambling started in August of 2019, and all casinos were not ready to take bets.

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