Sports gambling sets record, but numbers small compared to overall gambling picture

Prairie Meadows Casino in Altoona. (Radio Iowa photo)

By Dar Danielson, Radio Iowa
There were more than $210-million dollars bet on sports in Iowa in September.

“September handle numbers were the highest to date. That goes back to when sports betting was legalized,” Racing and Gaming Administrator, Brian Ohorilko says. The 2021 September betting increased by more than 138-million dollars than September of 2020.

Ohorilko says the January law change allowing players to sign up for We’ve saw a one-month record with some $210 million wagered in September on sports gambling — but Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohrilko, says we need to put that number in the context of the bigger gambling picture.

“It’s important to note that sports wagering and the revenue that is generated from sports wagering is really a very small portion of the overall revenue in the casino industry,” he says.

Ohorilko says the September sports revenue netted around six million dollars for the casinos and sports wagering companies.
“When you look at casino numbers and casino numbers for this month — which was 139 million dollars in overall net receipts. And so, it really is just a small portion of the profits and revenue that casinos make,” Ohorilko says.

Ohorilko says they knew from the start that sports betting was going to be a small portion of casino profits and state tax collections from gambling — but he says it gives casinos another product. “Sports wagering is something that people are interested in — and we are seeing success in that market — and we are seeing it conducted in a way that Iowans can feel safe that they are making bets in a regulated environment,” according to Ohorilko.

He says sports gambling had some economic impact as well with the money spent in advertising as it started. “When we were going through a period when in-person registration had sunset — and then also leading up to football this year — we were seeing levels advertising beyond anything we were seeing in the casino environment before. And so, there truly is an impact there,” Ohorilko says.

He says the advertising for sports betting has eased some as people learned they could sign up without going to a casino.