Iowa’s treasury has been overflowing thanks to the gambling industry, as it received a lot of cash to fill the coffers in 2018. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) published a report recently that shows some really interesting figures, one of them being that the casino industry in the state brought about $1.5 billion to it. This is, by far, the best year for Iowa since 2012. After all the taxes, the share that Iowa’s bank account received was $321.86 million.
What is more interesting at the moment is that the number of people who visit the casinos in Iowa has decreased over the past couple of years. How is it that the revenue from casinos increased, then?
Well, there are a couple of other factors that affected that, and one of the primary factors is that Iowa’s economy has been very stable lately. Up until 2012, everything looked great, but 2013 saw a significant downturn due to the global crisis. People still visited casinos, but the amount of money they were willing to spend on casino games was much lower back then. The economy of Iowa started going up again, and it seems that 2018 was the year the state fully recovered. At the moment, the unemployment rate in Iowa is only 2.5%, which is one of the lowers rates in the entire country. The personal income in the state is up by 5.5% in comparison to 2016.
Iowa has a total of 19 non-tribal casinos, and according to IGRC, the slot revenue from them was $1.31 billion with the final take going to Iowa being $156.80 million. The casino that was definitely the winner in the revenue competition was Horseshoe Council Bluffs venue which is operated by Caesars Entertainment. It offers a total of 1,400 slots and 60 table games which are scattered across a 60,000 sq ft gaming floor. The total amount of tax revenue generated in this casino for the year of 2018 was $37.50 million.
The next casino on the list was Ameristar, which contributed a total of $33.41 million in taxes. Ameristar is actually the only riverboat casino in the state of Iowa, and it offers currently five gaming tables for high-rollers and 51 high-limit slots on the 38,500 sq ft of gaming space.
Iowa actually has a pretty long gambling tradition, and the current state of gambling is as such thanks to the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act from 1983. Harness racing and greyhounds were introduced only two years after that, and the first riverboat casino was founded back in 1991. Ever since then, the gambling industry in Iowa has been flourishing and thriving. The only time there was a dip was back in 2013, but the state managed to fully recover from that, and the industry is running full speed ahead.
Iowa will also legalize sports betting very soon, it seems. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, the Governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, signed off on the legislation related to sports gambling. Once up and running, this activity could bring approximately $5 to $10 million annually to the state of Iowa. The IRGC will also be the main regulatory body for sports betting and will oversee it along the way. The Commission still has to make a couple of more additions to the rules before sports gambling officially becomes available in Iowa. Iowa will, therefore, become the 11th state to have approved sports gambling. If everything goes well, the residents of Iowa will have an opportunity to place bets on the new NFL season which start in September.