Sports activities gambling trade continues rising in Iowa

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The Iowa sports gambling market is rapidly expanding as the biggest game in sports is set for this coming weekend.

Iowa Racing and Gaming Administrator, Brian Ohorilko, says all of the state’s casinos now have sports gambling operations — and many are adding on. “A number of the casinos that got into the game early with online sports wagering are starting to shop their second individually branded website,” Ohorilko explains.

He says it is a natural progression of the 18-month old industry. “Each casino can have three individually branded websites…they all have one and many of them are now entering into their second agreements,” he says.

Ohorilko says other sports gambling businesses are now looking at Iowa as the requirement that you go to a casino to sign upended on January 1st. “This market has been inundated with new applications — companies that are wanting to enter the market,” Ohorilko says.

Ohorilko says sports gambling is a bright spot for the industry hit hard by the pandemic. “We’re seeing really good numbers right now and I think we’ll continue to see market growth in the next few months. We are not seeing obviously as related to the pandemic — we are not seeing any Superbowl parties. That’s something we are missing this year,” according to Ohorilko.

He says the loss of those parties is part of an overall impact of the pandemic that has hit the general casino business this year. “Attendance is still off significantly from what it was last year at this time. Revenue is starting to fall a little bit,” Ohorilko says. Ohorilko says attendance will not improve until people feel better about getting out and doing things in public.

He does say that the casinos should have the benefit of operating this year in months where they were shut down last year by the pandemic restrictions.