Sep 7, 2023 - Sports

Iowa's sports bet totals drop $200+ million

Illustration of a die with different sports balls as the dots.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Iowans placed $208 million less in sports bets during the fiscal year that ended in June as compared to the previous year, according to a Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) report.

Why it matters: The 8% drop — from $2.455M to $2.247M — marks the first fiscal year cooldown since Iowa launched legalized sports gaming in August 2019.

What they're saying: The inaugural excitement of sports betting is waning while new competition from surrounding states grows, IRGC administrator Brian Ohorilko tells Axios.

  • Sports betting operators are also offering fewer promotions and marketing less, Ohorilko says.

Catch up fast: Iowa was one of the first states to adopt sports gambling after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that made it illegal in most states in 2018.

  • As of June, 34 states — including Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska and South Dakota — have legalized sports gambling, per the American Gaming Association (AGA).
Data: Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission; Chart: Axios Visuals

The intrigue: Despite a drop in statewide sports bets, the state nonetheless collected almost 35% more in taxes from them — almost $12.9 million in the most recently completed fiscal year as compared to almost $9.6 million the previous year.

  • That's largely attributable to sports wagering operators making more money, Ohorilko says.
  • Taxes from sports betting are deposited into a special state fund, which helps pay for gambling addiction treatment programs, philanthropic projects and tax incentives for charitable giving.

Of note: The adjusted gross revenue at the state's 19 casinos declined less than 1% during the same period, from $1.766B to $1.755B.

  • Those figures exclude sports bets, which are primarily made online.

The big picture: Overall gaming revenue reached $16.07 billion in the second quarter of this year, marking the 10th consecutive quarter of annual growth, according to the AGA.

  • Year-over-year growth is driven by online sports betting and iGaming sectors, per the AGA.
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