Iowa flourishes without in-person registration with record bets month

Iowa’s sportsbooks have surpassed the state record with nearly $150m in bets, having flourished in their first full month without in-person registration.

Betting across the Hawkeye State is expected to continue on an upwards trajectory after DraftKings and FanDuel made a strong start, according to analysts for PlayIA, which tracks regulated online and retail gaming in the state. 

Online and retail sportsbooks handled more than $149.5m in wager, which is up 42.7 per cent from the record $104.8m handle in December. Those bets increased net receipts to $11.3m, up 50.5 per cent from $7.5m in December, which yielded $765,673 in state taxes.

“January was the just first test of an unshackled market, but it didn’t take long to realise just how much Iowa’s sportsbooks have been held back by the state’s in-person registration requirements,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for

“These will be an exciting next few months in the market, with some of the biggest sports-betting holidays — namely the Super Bowl and March Madness — buoying what should be rapid expansion. This is a whole new era in Iowa sports betting.”

Iowa is the first major US market to report January data, but only seven states drew more in bets in December. Tennessee was seventh with $180.9m in December wagering.

Online betting was the clear winner for Iowa, having generated more than 80.8 per cent of all bets, which equates to $120.8m in handle.

In December, online betting accounted for 74.5 per cent, or $78.1m, of all bets. In the US, about 82 per cent of all legal sports bets are made online, with most of the states without in-person registration requirements taking in closer to 90 per cent.

Jessica Welmen, analyst for, noted: “Iowa’s market already showed a strong preference for online sportsbooks, but the change in the requirements should bring the state more in line to what we see in states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“In the pre-pandemic environment, online growth actually grew the pie rather than siphoning off significant action from the retail market. Once the market normalises, that pattern should hold in Iowa, too.”

The end of the state’s in-person registration requirement has altered the landscape for operators. DraftKings, the dominant brand on the Wild Rose license, helped wrestle the market lead away from William Hill/Prairie Meadows. 

The Wild Rose license, which includes DraftKings and newly launched BetRivers, accounted for 33 per cent of the state’s online handle in January with $40.1m in bets. William Hill still attracted $39.8m in handle and led the market with $2.9m in revenue, making it the state’s single-largest brand. 

FanDuel fueled Diamond Jo’s $26.9m in online bets. The Diamond Jo license, which also includes BetMGM, was second in revenue, generating $2.2m, which was just ahead of Wild Rose’s $2m in revenue.

“FanDuel and DraftKings own the market lead in nearly every legal US market, so it’s no surprise that they capitalised on the rules change to increase their market share,” Gouker concluded. 

“But William Hill is proving to be a tough competitor. The battles over market share are now just beginning to heat up, though. That is good for consumers, who will benefit from fierce competition among operators.”