Iowa sportsbooks take $2bn in wagers in 2021

The growth of Iowa sportsbooks exploded in 2021 with the dismissal of in-person online registration rules, creating $2bn in wagers, according to PlayIA.
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Growth of Iowa sportsbooks exploded in 2021 with the dismissal of in-person online registration rules, creating $2bn in wagers during the year, according to PlayIA, a leading source for news and analysis of the Iowa gaming market.

The Hawkeye State’s sportsbooks ended the year by generating more than $13m in revenue on nearly $270m in bets in December.

During the month, bettors wagered $266.5m in Iowa’s sportsbooks, up 154.3% from $104.8m in December 2020, according to official data, falling short of November’s record of $287.2m. The volume of betting dropped to $8.6m per day over the 31 days ($9.6m per day in November).

$241.7m (90.7%) of December’s bets were made online, delivering $11.9m in revenue, while retail generated the remaining $24.8m, producing $1.5m in net receipts.

Revenue dropped in December by 32.3% to $13.4m (November: $19.7m), but it was still the second-highest in state history and up 77.4% year-over-year (December 2020: $7.5m), yielding $957,637 in tax revenue for the state.

Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the Network, which includes, commented: “Bettors have more time and more opportunity to place a bet in December than most any other month. Football and basketball seasons overlap, and Iowa and Iowa State have played well in both sports, which creates enthusiasm.

“Plus, sports fans take time off around the holidays, and college bowl games are played every day of the week.”

2021 was a remarkable year for Iowa sportsbooks. Beginning with the end of in-person registration, sportsbooks generated: $2.04bn in wagers, up 255% (2020: $575.2m) and likely placing the Hawkeye State 10th among legal sports betting jurisdictions in the US; $1.8bn in online wagers, up 343.7% (2020: $405.2m); and $114.5m in net receipts, up 175.2% (2020: $41.6m).

Russ Mitchell, the lead analyst for, added: “Significant growth would have come regardless of the registration rules, but the rollback of in-person requirements ultimately was rocket fuel for Iowa’s sportsbooks. Iowa’s market hasn’t reached maturity either.

“Sportsbooks continue to expand their reach to new customers as potential bettors become more comfortable with the idea of legal sports betting. And as Iowa bettors become more familiar with diverse forms of betting such as in-game wagering, the market should continue to grow.”

In December, Caesars led the online market with $90.1m in wagers, yielding $3.6m in net receipts. DraftKings was second with $72.3m, producing $3m in revenue.

Diamond Jo Worth led the retail market with $6.2m in bets, yielding $271,676 in revenue. Ameristar Council Bluffs was second with $5.5m, $384,513 in net receipts.

There were plenty of Iowa sports action for bettors to wager on in December. Alongside a full month of NFL and NBA games, college basketball drew significant action, too. Iowa State went undefeated in its six games, including a win over Iowa. Iowa basketball played six games, too.

Iowa State also played Clemson in the Cheez-It Bowl, while Iowa awaited its Citrus Bowl matchup with Kentucky on January 1.

Mitchell concluded: “No marketing push from an operator can compare to the enthusiasm that a hot local team can create, and the football and basketball programs at Iowa and Iowa State have had significant success over the last four months. Sportsbooks have benefitted mightily, spurring four months of records to end what was already a great year for the industry.”