Mar 30, 2022 - Sports

Iowa's March Madness windfall

A photo of a basketball game.
Emily Ryan #11 Iowa State Cyclones puts up a shot during a March 25 game against the Creighton Bluejays. Photo: Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

March Madness betting is expected to hit record levels this year, including in Iowa, where taxes collected from sports wagering have already bested previous year totals, Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission director Brian Ohorilko tells Axios.

State of play: Iowa is anticipating millions of extra moolah for 2022 and lawmakers at the State Capitol are debating how to spend it.

  • One bill introduced last month proposes banning school districts from charging kids admission fees to attend sports events, and appropriating money from the state's sports betting receipts fund.
  • Problem gambling treatment and extra assistance to county governments that don't have casinos are also under consideration.

Of note: Admissions to Iowa's problem gambling treatment programs have declined in recent years, according to a March 2021 report from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Catch up fast: Iowa's legalized sports betting launched in August 2019. A tax of 6.75% on net receipts goes into a state fund.

  • Sports betting is now allowed in 30 states, plus Washington, D.C., according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).

By the numbers: More than 17% of American adults — 45 million people — will wager $3.1 billion on the 2022 March Madness tournament, according to AGA estimates.

  • There's no doubt this year will generate the highest legal handle in March Madness history, AGA CEO Bill Miller told Axios.

What they're saying: This year's March Madness generated more enthusiasm with the Hawkeyes and Cyclones making the men's and women's tournaments, Ohorilko said.

  • Iowa's March Madness earnings this year won't be fully known until around April 8, but it was the biggest month in the previous fiscal year, he said.
Data: Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission; Chart: Will Chase/Axios
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