In-person registration for Iowa sports betting ends on the first day of 2021. As a result, it will become much easier to get started with mobile sports betting in the new year.
Starting January 1st, 2021, bettors may register for online sports betting accounts from anywhere within Iowa state lines. Previously, a provision in state law required customers to visit a casino in-person to sign up for a mobile betting account.
What This Means for Bettors in Iowa
From here on out, bettors will find it more convenient to sample the full range of mobile sportsbooks licensed in Iowa. Under the old rule, customers could only sign up for a mobile betting account by visiting that sportsbook’s partner casino in person.
The wide geographic spread of casinos in Iowa largely restricted bettors to doing business with sportsbooks that happen to be partnered with the nearest casino, effectively limiting choice.
For example, anyone living in Sioux City faced the prospect of a nearly six-hour drive to Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington just to register an account with PointsBet Sportsbook. On January 1st, those same bettors will instead just download the app from home and register in mere minutes.
For Iowans, the change will feel like a whole new batch of mobile sportsbooks entered the market on January 1st. Soon, every online sportsbook licensed in Iowa will be within reach of the nearest smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Where to Bet Online in Iowa
With the in-person registration provision phasing out, Iowa bettors now have easy access to a larger range of mobile sportsbooks. Not only do bettors gain the opportunity to try more sportsbooks for a better fit, but they can also take advantage of more welcome bonuses and promotions.
Advertising will likely ramp up now that geographic restrictions have been lifted, but for anyone who needs a refresher on which online sportsbooks are licensed in Iowa, see our Iowa sports betting guide for a list of licensed sportsbooks, welcome bonuses, and other important information for getting started.
Why the Change?
The end of in-person registration in Iowa has nothing to do with coronavirus. However, the timing is fortunate with large chunks of the population hesitant to visit anywhere people congregate.
The change is simply a result of state law functioning as intended.
Iowa legalized sports betting in 2019 with a law authorizing casinos to offer in-person and online sports betting. Under the law, casinos may partner with third-party providers such as DraftKings to run their retail sportsbooks and mobile betting platforms.
IAC § 491-13.5(2) states gamblers must establish accounts at licensed facilities “prior to January 1, 2021.” State regulations required casinos to verify each new customer’s age and identity in-person, but after that date, mobile betting operators may complete the process remotely.
Iowa’s switch to mobile registration brings to mind three implications for the industry.
Revenue and Handle Boost
Remote registration will likely boost Iowa sports betting handle, which was already growing as 2020 comes to a close.
In November, the most recent month for which data is available, Iowa sportsbooks collectively booked more than $87 million in wagers. Of that amount, nearly $25 million was taken in person, and more than $62 million was taken online.
According to these figures, mobile betting currently accounts for a little over 70% of the state’s total betting handle despite the in-person registration requirement.
Other mobile betting states that do not require in-person registration are averaging closer to the 80% mark. When Iowa becomes a more convenient state for signups, it will not be surprising to see mobile betting handle tick up to become more in line with other mobile-friendly states.
More Interest from Customers in Neighboring States
Customers from neighboring states may now have more incentive to sign up and bet online now that all they need to do is cross state lines to sign up and place bets. Those bettors, who may not have been willing to drive several hours to a casino that supports their preferred sportsbook, will have an easier time taking advantage of Iowa’s online betting laws.
More Operators to Set Up Shop in Iowa
With a population of just over three million, Iowa is not the biggest sports betting market, but it has room to grow. Indiana, which has a population more than twice that of Iowa, saw betting handle of $207 million in September, $230 million in October, and more than $250 million in November.
Small population aside, Iowa is an attractive market with a low tax rate and reasonable licensing fees. The end of in-person registration will make it a viable state for additional operators that lack a land-based presence. Bally’s, Unibet, 888, and Vigtory have all announced plans to launch in Iowa in 2021. BetRivers is also in the process of rolling out its mobile betting app in the Hawkeye State.