Sports Betting Numbers Soar in Iowa

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Iowa State Cyclones mascot Cy the Cardinal performs. Ed Zurga/Getty Images/AFP

Iowa has experienced tremendous growth in the sports betting sector as evidenced by the impressive numbers in March of 2022 and the market looks poised to weather the inevitable summer slump before football returns.

March Madness Mania in Iowa

College basketball is big in the Hawkeye State and it was a perfect storm of the Big Dance coupled with Iowa’s men’s team defeating Purdue for the Big 10 title while the women Hawkeyes did the same in defeating the Hoosiers.

Factor in those championships as well as a Sweet 16 appearance by No. 11 in the Midwest Region, Iowa State, after the Cyclones defeated LSU and Wisconsin before falling to Miami.

Iowa State was also heartily represented in the women’s national championship tourney with a Sweet 16 effort of their own before being upset by Creighton.

There was plenty to root for and Iowans put their money where their mouths were with more than $233 million in sports bets during the month of March.

This was a whopping 45 percent increase over March of 2021 and eight percent more than the state did in February.

“March Madness is typically the busiest non-football month of the year in the sports betting industry, and Iowa did not disappoint,” said Russ Mitchell, the lead analyst for the gaming news site

“Sportsbooks also got a significant boost from the state’s schools. Iowa’s men and women won the Big Ten Conference (basketball) tournaments and received automatic NCAA tournament bids.

Iowa State’s basketball teams reached the Sweet 16 in both editions of March Madness. That generated significant enthusiasm statewide, and showed in March’s wagering patterns,” he said.

Iowa Casinos Take Slight Dip

Although the metrics from March are proving that sports betting is a resounding success in Iowa, the summer months will undoubtedly reflect a decrease in the gross betting handle.

But the true dog days of summer will come after the NBA and NHL playoffs are over and all that is left in the sports betting landscape is Major League Baseball as well as the usual golf, tennis, and MMA events we see throughout much of the calendar year.

Iowa will be no exception to this rule but that doesn’t mean that those scant few months when MLB is the only game in town can’t be profitable.

They just won’t be as lucrative as usual but the books and the municipalities will still be making money and that’s the endgame in all of this.

“Sportsbooks typically slow after March, even with the NBA playoffs, baseball, and major golf tournaments,” said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for

“But Iowa’s industry is on excellent footing heading into the slower summer months, and is poised for another big jump forward this fall when football returns.”

As for the 19 commercial casinos in the state, excluding the four Native American casinos, there was a slight 1.7 percent decrease in overall gaming numbers from March of 2021.

However, it should also be noted that state-licensed casino gaming revenue in Iowa is up 17 percent with three months remaining in the fiscal year.