Iowa’s gambling market is running strong. The state has 19 commercial casinos, all of which were closed for 11 weeks last year because of COVID-19, and was among the early adopters of sports gambling in 2019. Since then, and despite the issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Iowa’s gamblers are helping the state recover quicker than anyone could have anticipated. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC), adjusted gross gaming revenue for the state’s casinos topped $1.43 billion for the period running June 2020 to May 2021.
Iowa Gambling Not Slowing Down
The IRGC’s figures cover the first 11 months of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30. The results are a 36% improvement over the previous full-year period, with one more month to be recorded. Sports gambling was especially beneficial, with a handle of over $1.1 billion for the period. Despite no major sports events, such as the Super Bowl or March Madness that were seen in the first quarter, May’s sports gambling handle in the state still reached almost $115 million.
In the prior fiscal year, Iowa’s casinos reported $1.457 billion in gross revenue, preceded by $1.464 billion a year earlier. The latest results are a 7% increase over those of fiscal year 2019, with one more month still to be included. Brian Ohorilko, the administrator of the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission, says he expects to see the “highest year since gaming started in the state,” barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Sports Gambling the Big Winner in Iowa
Sports gambling has continued to be a favorite activity in Iowa, with over $100 million in wagers placed last December. That was the third consecutive month that the state increased its sports gambling handle, and the highest on record, since the activity was legalized. The recent announcement that Iowa casinos and racinos can take bets on foreign horse and dog races is likely to give operators an additional boost.
Because of the continued strong performance, Iowa has received its benefits, as well. May provided $32.5 million in tax revenue from gambling, with $286 million being provided throughout the course of the current fiscal year. Wes Ehrecke of the Iowa Gaming Association is happy with the results that are being seen and states that Iowa’s gambling scene is “quickly getting back to normal.”
Iowa’s casino industry is likely to see a slight increase in its revenue percentages, compared to other industries in the state, beginning next year. That’s when a new law is set to become effective that will cap minimum wage at all gaming properties. As talk of a $15 minimum wage becoming federally mandated continues, Iowa lawmakers decided to limit the minimum wage to $9.06, even if the federal minimum wage increases.