The state of Iowa, generally one of the first sports betting jurisdictions to report their monthly sports handles is out with their April figures and they reveal a definite March Madness hangover and the potential for a longer sports betting slump throughout the typically slower summer months.
Iowa sportsbooks reported a record-setting March thanks to the NCAA Basketball tournament but the absence of a major event outside of the Men’s National College Basketball game, dragged the April sports betting figures down. Fears are that the summer months could be relatively lean, until sports betting’s bread-and-butter NFL kicks off again in September.
“We did experience the expected decline in wagering for April,” said Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the state Racing and Gaming Commission. “This will likely be the case throughout the summer. We were interested to see where the handle numbers would settle now that the more popular wagering events were complete.”
A Look Into April’s Numbers
According to figures released by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on Friday, the state’s sportsbooks took in $118.36 million, down an eye-opening 26.7% from March’s record-setting $161.44 million. The numbers represent the state’s largest single monetary month-to-month drop in handle since legalization in August 2019 and the lowest betting total recorded in the state since December 2020.
Revenues followed the downward handle trend. Sportsbooks made $7.73 million in April, down 42.6% from March’s $13.45 million, which was and still is a record for the state. The lower profits were reflected in the handle dip and also the unflattering 6.53% hold seen in Iowa sportsbooks (it was 8.335 in March).
Just $521,455 in tax receipts was collected for Iowa state and local coffers in April off of the handle and revenues. That’s down 42.6% from March’s tax contributions.
Mobile Betting Apps Continued to Lead the Way
Ohio’s mobile sports betting platform continues to dominate the overall sports betting take in April. Despite slipping 25% on the heel s of a tangible overall handle slump, apps were responsible for more than 88% of Iowa’s April sports betting haul.
In April, Iowa’s mobile betting industry took in $104.51 million of the $118.26 million handle. As of February, all 10 brick-and-mortar facilities in the state offer mobile sports betting opportunities which adds to the heightened status of the state’s mobile scene.
Just How Bad the Iowa Betting Scene Was Last Year
To see just how badly the coronavirus pandemic affected the US legal sports betting scene, one needs not look further than the year-over-year spikes in handle and revenues. Iowa’s April numbers are the best example of the intense impact COVID-19 had on the industry one year ago.
In April 2020, Iowa sportsbooks took in $1,568,497 during a time of widespread casino closures and the temporary halting of global sports leagues. That’s 7,466% less than was taken in last month. Revenues in April 2020 came in at just $150,331, 5,039% less than the $7.73 million reported in April 2021.
Heading Into the Summer
There is an extended slowdown of the US betting industry expected. The NBA and NHL playoffs should provide some betting intrigue and baseball and golf should bring in a share of betting dollars.
But: “Nothing can quite replace the interest that the NFL and the NCAA Tournament drives, so a pullback in April is no surprise,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayIA.com. “But with a full month of regular season NBA and Major League Baseball, Iowa still put together a decent showing in April. That is an excellent sign as we head into the slower summer months, which could be busier than in an ordinary year because of the Olympics and later-than-usual NBA playoffs.”
It is the end of the summer that analysts and sportsbooks are looking forward too. College football for Iowa schools is slated to begin September 4 and the NFL season won’t be far behind. Until then the legal sports betting industry in Iowa are expected to tread water until football begins.
The string of expected and consistent monthly records for the state of Iowa seems to be over for now. But with a mature market that in April surpassed a milestone $100 million in operator revenue since the industry launched in 2019 and with more than their share of top-tier competition in the market, Iowa will bounce back – it just may be a few months before that time comes