Indiana sports betting certainly kicked off 2020 with a bang. In January, the state’s sports betting industry reported a handle just above $170 million, a 5.6 percent increase from December. Indiana’s mobile industry certainly had something to do with it, accounting for 72.2 percent of January’s total handle, up 3.9 percent from December. If Indiana keeps up this pace, it could actually surpass Pennsylvania and become the third-largest sports betting market in the U.S.
Iowa sports betting, on the other hand, is experiencing a decline. In January, its sports betting handle hit only $58 million, a 2.1 percent decrease from December. It is the second month in a row that the handle decreased. The bright spot is that the online handle grew by 1.2 percent, which is reason for hope. In New Jersey, which is considered the paragon of sports betting, mobile betting accounts for roughly 88% of all bets. Clearly, the significance of mobile sports betting cannot be understated.
Mobile Makes the Difference
When it comes to Indiana and Iowa, the different directions they are headed is clearly related to mobile sports betting. Indiana has only four mobile sportsbooks, but included in those four are DraftKings and FanDuel, two of the biggest names in daily fantasy sports and now sports betting. Clearly, brand names count for something. In January, DraftKings generated 38.6 percent of Indiana’s total, while FanDuel generated 37.7 percent.
The two major companies, however, do not operate in Iowa. Iowa also requires in-person registration to be allowed to bet via mobile, which can be a turn-off for people who don't have the time or inclination to register in person.
Will March Madness Save the Day?
Another factor in Iowa’s declining numbers is the end of college football season. Come March Madness, it could be that the state’s numbers pick up. However, it would be unwise for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) to rely solely on March Madness, when there is another, faster solution. Allowing players to place mobile bets without in-person registration could be the lift that Iowa needs. But will they do it? If the numbers continue to decline, the IRGC will need to explore its options.