A spring full of more options as COVID-19 mitigations receded did nothing to temper Iowans’ appetite for putting down bets on the NCAA tournament.
The state reported $223.5 million bet on sports in casinos and online in March, a 44 percent increase from March of 2021 when COVID-19 vaccinations were still in short supply and indoor gatherings largely discouraged.
The increase also tracks another year in which Iowans have been able to sign up for mobile betting without first having to visit a physical casino.
“Back in March 2021, I think Iowans were still getting comfortable with that concept,” said Russ Mitchell, the managing editor and lead writer for PlayIA. "That convenience is one part of the equation. I also think sports betting and gambling in general is more of a way of life now."
Belayers may also have been acclimating to the added options that continue to be offered.
“Sportsbooks keep upgrading their technology as well, so customers can make live bets as a game is underway," Mitchell said. "Live-betting is a huge part of the industry now.”
Overall, the house reported $14.4 million in receipts from Iowans’ wagering during the month.
March is obviously home to one of the most popular betting events of the year with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, though Iowans wagered 8 percent more in March than in February, which is home of the year’s biggest betting extravaganza – the Super Bowl.
The vast majority of bets were placed via mobile apps with $208.2 million in bets coming online compared to just $25.2 million being placed in retail locations.
Crown Gaming, which operates DraftKings, took the most bets with a handle of $64.8 million and coming out $2.7 million ahead of its bettors. American Wagering, operating the Caesars app, registered a handle of $49 million and receipts of $2.1 million. Betfair Interactive, which runs FanDuel, reported a handle of $47.4 million and receipts of $3.7 million.
The state of Iowa garnered $957,626.27 in tax revenue in March.
Iowans had reason for an increased level of interest in the NCAA tournament this year with both the University of Iowa and Iowa State in the field. The Hawkeyes bowed out in an upset in the first round while the Cyclones made a surprise Sweet 16 run.
Iowans have wagered $2.18 billion on sports in the first four months of 2022.
“March is the biggest non-football betting month of the year because of the NCAA Tournament,” Mitchell said. “Iowa sports betting companies and casinos will see sports bets slow down a bit from here. That’s a seasonal trend. Sports bets will ramp back up a little in August, then really take off in September with football returns as a betting option.”