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Bettors Send Iowa Retail Sportsbooks To Third Februrary Loss In Five Years


The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reported retail sportsbooks in the Hawkeye State took a collective loss of $215,242 in February on Wednesday, likely driven by the Kansas City Chiefs repeating as Super Bowl champions.

The state agency does not parse out specific sports betting numbers for Super Bowl wagering, but these outcomes have been common in Iowa when Kansas City emerges victorious. Each time the Chiefs have lifted the Lombardi Trophy in 2020, 2023, and 2024, the state’s brick-and-mortar venues have finished February in the red when adding up the totals.

With Chiefs Kingdom reaching beyond Kansas‘ borders, sportsbooks had a middling February overall in the Hawkeye State. Operator revenue totaled $13.6 million, up 14.6% from the previous year. Much of that increase can be traced to the 13.8% year-over-year surge in handle to $220.6 million since the 6.2% hold was practically flat versus 2023.

February’s handle dropped 15% compared to January, while revenue plunged 38.3% as the hold for the first month of the year was 2.3 percentage points higher. The state collected $936,700 in taxes, and the $2.4 million collected in the first two months of 2024 is running $559,700 ahead of last year’s pace.

Sharing the retail pain across the state

Only six of Iowa’s 19 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks could claim victory over the betting public in February, though Lakeside Casino’s payouts totaling $42,407 came from futures bets placed prior to its closure late last year.

Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs near the Nebraska border and Riverside Casino — roughly 75 miles north of the Missouri border — had the biggest losses for the month at $194,065 and $102,827, respectively. Another three venues saw bettors come out more than $50,000 ahead for February while four locations in addition to Lakeside had losses ranging from $10,000 to $42,500.

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The state’s two biggest sportsbooks in terms of handle, Ameristar in Council Bluffs and Diamond Jo Worth, had modest six-figure revenue totals above $140,000. Ameristar posted a 4.3% hold on $3.4 million handle while Diamond Jo had a 3.9% win rate.

Mobile operators go mostly unscathed

More than 92% of handle originated via sports betting apps, and the 19 mobile operators combined for a 6.8% win rate on $203.8 million worth of wagers. DraftKings took top marks in both revenue and handle, posting a 7.3% hold to claim $5.9 million in winnings from $81.4 million handle.

FanDuel was denied a double-digit hold for only the fourth time in the last 19 months, attaining an 8.4% mark in collecting $4.6 million in winnings from $55.4 million in bets placed. That revenue haul was also enough to push FanDuel above $125 million in all-time winnings in Iowa.

BetMGM was the only other mobile book to surpass $1 million in revenue, topping that benchmark by $110,600 thanks to a 9.2% hold from $12 million handle. Caesars came within $185,000 of seven figures as it ended February with a 3.5% win rate from $23.2 million handle.

The Fanatics Sportsbook-PointsBet duo, which transitioned to Fanatics Sportsbook after it launched in the Hawkeye State on Feb. 6, had a 1.8% hold on $4.2 million worth of wagers in keeping $75,400 of that amount. It was the first sub-2% hold for the licensee since February 2020.

ESPN BET rounded out the top five for mobile handle with $10.8 million, and revenue increased nearly seven-fold from January to $518,200 as its 4.8% hold for February was more than four percentage points higher.

Circa Sports avoided its first four-month losing streak to Iowa bettors, coming out $41,500 ahead on $2.3 million handle to fashion a 1.8% hold. The Las-Vegas based sportsbook is still down $80,900 for the year.

SuperBook and Betway posted near-identical losses as the only two active mobile operators to finish in the red. Bettors came out $14,947 ahead versus SuperBook on $245,900 handle, and Betway paid out $14,793 above its $121,400 worth of action accepted.

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