Breaking News
More () »

Iowa sports bettors up the ante for March Madness

100,000 people placed bets in Iowa from March 16 to 19, according to Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The excitement may have quieted down around Wells Fargo Arena, but March Madness isn't over yet, and Iowans are betting big on it.

According to the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission, the two busiest times for sports betting in the Hawkeye State are actually pretty predictable. The first is the Super Bowl, and the other is "The Big Dance."

"We had approximately 100,000 individuals, separate users, that participated in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday through Sunday in Iowa. To give you a comparison, we got 120,000 that registered and participate on the Super Bowl," said Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

According to the American Gaming Association, 68 million adults are expected to place bets on the NCAA men's tournament this year, wagering approximately $15.5 billion dollars altogether. 

That's about half a billion less than the Super Bowl — but on the flip side, there's actually 18 million more bettors taking part.

And, believe it or not, one of the things driving betting traffic in Iowa isn't actually the Iowans at all. March Madness may have been in our own backyard, but many of the out-of-state visitors were putting down plenty of bets of their own.

"For example, sports betting isn't legal in Texas, and so it was possible and was expected that we would see some of those fans come to Iowa, register for a sports wagering account and participate," Ohorilko said.

So far in fiscal year 2023, Iowans have spent over $1.5 billion on sports betting. And while analysts say the market for gamblers is still strong, that spending is expected to slow down a bit in the coming months.

"We're getting into the summer. We will expect maybe a little decline in the summer, as the baseball season and NBA basketball isn't as popular for Iowans," Ohorilko said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out