As locals in Iowa unwrapped the new year 2021, there was even more reason for celebration for sports betting enthusiasts in the state as the calendar turned to 1st January on Friday. On that day, the sports betting industry also ushered in a new era because the in-person registration requirement for mobile sports betting also officially expired. Thanks to the new change in the law that took effect on the first day of 2021, Iowa residents can now download mobile sports betting apps on their devices, create an account and start placing wagers right away.
For the sake of clarification, when the Hawkeye State first launched a regulated sports betting market in August 2019, the debut was accompanied by a rather restrictive law that required sports bettors to register for their accounts on-site and not directly through a mobile betting app. The in-person sign-up limitation was however a temporary measure that was to last for only 18 months as the state’s sports betting market continues to mature.
Illinois to Follow Iowa’s Lead in the Coming Months
Now that bettors are no longer required to visit a brick-and-mortar casino in person just to create a mobile sports betting account, the number of states with such a requirement is down to two – Illinois and Nevada. Rhode Island was also operating under the same in-person registration limitation, but things changed in late July when Governor Gina Raimondo signed a remote registration bill into law to open up the market further as the state sought a revenue boost.
And by the way, like for Iowa, the in-person registration limit for Illinois is also a provisional measure. For Illinois’ case, however, remote registration will be permanent as soon as the first mobile-only sportsbook makes an entry into the state. From the look of things, it could happen as soon as March, or somewhere in late August or early September, in time for the start of NFL’s 2021 season.
Let’s not forget that sports bettors in Illinois are already enjoying remote registration even before the in-person registration window closes. The state governor, JB Pritzker allowed direct online registration temporarily in June and once again in August through an executive order to throw a lifeline to the sports betting industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As we speak, the August suspension for the in-person requirements is still ongoing – after several extensions since the re-issue of the executive order in August.
Remote Registration to Boost Iowa’s Sports Betting Industry
When the first sports bet was placed in Iowa at the Prairie Meadows Casino & Racetrack in Altoona, industry proponents were quick to point out how the in-person registration would curtail the potential of the local industry. But then, in defense of the sponsors of the sports betting bill back then, the 18-month in-person measure was a sort of middle ground to get the bill to the finish line in the assembly; some legislators were a bit concerned about the risk of underage gambling.
Nonetheless, just because bettors can now sign up for mobile sports betting remotely, it doesn’t mean that it has gotten any easier for players under the age of 21 years to engage in illegal gambling. Bettors creating their accounts remotely will still have to submit identity information such as date of birth, physical address, phone number, and the last four digits of their Social Security number, aside from the usual name and email upon registration.
With remote registration finally in play, Iowa’s regulated sports betting market finally has the chance to truly flourish. The highest handle in a month that has been recorded for the state so far was in November with $87.2 million but henceforth, industry observers expect a consistent $100 million-plus handle as it has been in every other state with legal mobile betting allowed.
Right now, the Hawkeye State is served by 8 different sportsbooks; William Hill, Q Sportsbook, PointsBet, Hard Rock Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, Elite Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, and most recently BetRivers which made a debut in the state right when remote registration was okayed. 888 will also be joining its counterparts in Iowa later in the year.