MASON CITY, Iowa - It's been nearly three years since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that effectively banned commercial sports betting in most states. The decision to overturn the ban in the Murphy v. National College Athletic Association case opened the door to legalizing the estimated $150 billion in illegal wagers on professional and amateur sports Americans lay down every year.
In Iowa, state legislators passed a bill legalizing sports betting in 2019. Since that time, Brian Ohorilko with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has seen the market for it grow exponentially, even as the pandemic shifted sports seasons in 2020.
"In every month, September, October, November, December, we're seeing record numbers in terms of handle for our state."
Initially in Iowa, if you wanted to create a sports betting account, you would have to go to your closest casino. As part of a 'sunset' provision in the original Iowa legislation, you can register directly with the app from anywhere and be verified. With this change in state law, Ohorilko says there's already growing interest in expanding the number of licensed sports betting companies in the Hawkeye State, joining the likes of Fanduel and DraftKings and six others.
"Those companies have entered into agreements with Iowa casinos, or have submitted to the Racing and Gaming Commission for licensure. This market is going to expand very quickly."