Iowa's sports gambling explodes in popularity
Iowans placed almost $1.25 billion in sports bets in the first six months of the current fiscal year, according to records published Friday by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC).
- That surpasses the amount wagered in the entire previous fiscal year, averaging more than $6.8 million each day between July and December.
Why it matters: Much of the bets are placed online and critics like Tom Coates of Consumer Credit of Des Moines warn that the convenience is fueling addictions and social problems.
- Efforts to expand Iowa's online gaming to casino games is underway.
- Prairie Meadows is one of the only nonprofit casinos in the nation and its profits help pay county debt and assist dozens of nonprofits.
Catch up fast: Legalized sports betting is still relatively new in Iowa, officially launching in August 2019.
- An initial requirement that people sign up for sports betting in-person at an Iowa casino ended last year and some casinos believe part of their profits are being sidelined by sportsbook operators.
- The in-person rollback "was rocket fuel" for online sports wagering, Russ Mitchell, lead analyst for PlayIA.com, said in a statement.
Between the lines: Online sports betters are largely a different demographic than in-person players, according to a study that was commissioned by the IRGC and released last month.
What to watch: "It's definitely plausible" that a bill to expand online gaming will be introduced in the 2022 legislative session, Iowa Gaming Association president Wes Ehrecke told Axios Friday.
- Some members of the association support the expansion but the group will remain neutral on the issue this year, Ehrecke said.
- Polk supervisors chairperson Angela Connolly told Axios in October that she'd fight against an online gaming expansion, saying it could devastate county finances.
More Des Moines stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.