Geoff Jameson •
State of the Union – US Sports Betting Update – Indiana, Iowa and Michigan Set New Monthly Records in September
September is shaping up to be the strongest month yet for the burgeoning legal sports betting industry after three key states announced record trading figures. Sportsbooks in Indiana took $355.4 million in wagers during the month, up 71.3% year-on-year, while revenue surged to $33.9 million. Iowa saw its sports betting handle increase by more than 190% year-on-year to reach $210.4 million. Michigan’s total handle reached $386.8 million, breaking a record previously set in March. All eyes will now be on figures coming out of large states like New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois and Pennsylvania as the market anticipates a new national monthly record.
DraftKings extended its lead as the most popular sportsbook in Indiana during September. It captured a 40.7% share of the market, up from 38.2% in August, according to the new report from the Indiana Gaming Commission. FanDuel’s share dipped to 24.1%, while BetMGM also saw its share decline, but it remains the number three sportsbook in the Hoosier State, with 11.6% of the market. Caesars Sportsbook is starting to gain traction after taking over William Hill in August. It increased its market share from 8.7% in August to 9.6% in September, while Barstool Sportsbook now accounts for 5% of sports bets placed in Indiana.
The upturn was naturally down to the start of the new football season. Football accounted for 42.3% of the handle in Indiana last month. Parlays accounted for 26.2%, and a large part of that figure was probably made up of football parlays. Baseball accounted for 14.9% of wagers. The NHL season is now underway, and the NBA begins next week, so October, November, December and January could prove to be even busier than September for online sportsbooks across the country.
Confluence of Tailwinds in Iowa
The $210.4 million handle in Iowa broke a record of $161.4 million set in March, when the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament took center stage. There are a few reasons behind the 190% year-on-year increase. Iowa sportsbooks benefited from the start of the NFL season, but the annual Cy-Hawk football game was also a big deal in the state. It also no longer requires in-person registration, so it is now a friendlier trading environment. Yet the state only saw revenue increase by 10.6% year-on-year, as bettors were savvier with their picks and operators handed out more promotional credit.
Caesars Sportsbook took the largest handle at $66.5 million, but it only brought in $749.17 in revenue. DraftKings took the second largest handle, but it incurred a loss of more than $1.9 million. FanDuel was a distant third in terms of handle, with $27 million, but it earned $1.8 million in revenue, making it the most profitable sportsbook in the state, according to the latest report.
Michigan Edges Out Indiana
Michigan sportsbooks took $354.3 in online sports wagers and $32.5 million worth of in-person sports bets during September. That took the total handle to $386.8 million, narrowly surpassing the record set in March. It also meant that Michigan finished ahead of Indiana, putting it on course to be the fifth largest state for sports betting in September. The handle represented an 82.4% month-on-month increase on August’s figures, and it was well ahead of September 2020.
Total revenue reached $27.1 million. However, sportsbooks issued more than $23.6 million in promotional credits as they battled one another for new customers ahead of the NFL season. That meant the taxable revenue figure was a little under $3.5 million, so the state and local authorities received just shy of $1 million in tax from sports betting in Michigan.
DraftKings retained its status as the number one sportsbook in Michigan during September. FanDuel may reign supreme on the East Coast, but DraftKings is shaping up to be the dominant player in the Midwest. It took $106.9 million in online wagers during September, which was 30.2% of the market. FanDuel had a 23.2% share, and BetMGM was a close third with 23.1%. Barstool Sportsbook and Caesars Sportsbook rounded out the top five.
Connecticut Undergoing Soft Launch Period
Connecticut began a one-week soft launch period for online sports betting and casino gaming on Tuesday. Retail sports wagering got underway on September 30, but online wagering was postponed due to a delay in updating state gaming compacts at the federal level. The new era started this week, when FanDuel, DraftKings and SugarHouse were each permitted to sign up 750 customers for the soft launch. Those customers are only allowed to bet on a selection of games provided by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
If it all goes according to plan, online sports betting and casino gaming should officially begin on Tuesday next week. That means sports fans in the state will be able to bet on big Week 8 NFL games such as the New York Giants’ clash with the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets’ trip to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots, along with Uconn’s NCAAF game against Middle Tennessee. It will also launch in time for the first NBA game of the season, which pits the Brooklyn Nets against reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Connecticut issued three master licenses – one to the state-controlled Connecticut Lottery, one to the Mohegan Tribe and another to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. Each licensee can host one online skin, so they have teamed up with SugarHouse, FanDuel and DraftKings respectively. Lottery officials indicated this week that the soft launch period has gone according to plan, so the full launch should proceed as planned on Tuesday.
Neighboring states Massachusetts and New York have not yet legalized online sports betting, so Connecticut could receive visitors from those states that want to place legal wagers. It has a larger population than Iowa and a significantly larger GDP, but the market is not as competitive, so it could eventually see a similar sized industry to the one that has developed in the Hawkeye State.