DES MOINES — A “perfect storm” of overlapping professional and college sports in September helped drive sports wagering to a record month in Iowa and aid state-licensed casinos trying to re-establish themselves as a viable entertainment option in a COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of that wagering was done online, not in a casino, as attendance has dropped. But Iowa’s casinos are looking at ways they can attract more patrons with options like betting that does not rely on cash changing hands.
Even with the attendance drop off, though, strong sports betting is pushing casinos to be on track for “a good year.”
Bets on college and professional football, as well as pro baseball, basketball, ice hockey, NASCAR, soccer and horse racing pushed last month’s handle to nearly $72.4 million — a monthly record for a gambling activity authorized Aug. 15, 2019, in Iowa.
“You had all six major sports leagues playing games all in one day and that’s never been the case,” said Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business for the Gambling.com Group, a marketing company in the sports betting industry.
“It’s been kind of a perfect storm in terms of what people have to wager on, what games are being played — there’s just a large buffet of games that you’re able to wager on at different times of day and different types of sports so it really lends itself very positively to the Iowa sports betting market,” he said,