For the first time since the reinstatement of in-person registration, Illinois sportsbooks set a new monthly record for betting handle and revenue. The state recorded over $840 million in wagers, and joined the top 18 legal sports betting markets in the United States that set a betting record in recent months.
The figure maintains Illinois in third place in the United States in terms of monthly sports betting handle, trailing only New Jersey and Nevada, which each had $1 billion in wagers. Sports betting figures increased across the country in the past months with the returns of the NBA and the NHL, as well as the MLB Playoffs and the World Series.
Illinois’ betting platforms had not achieved a record month since the reintroduction of in-person registration in April. However, with HB 3136, which is currently on Governor J. B. Pritzker’s desk and would eliminate in-person registration early next year, perhaps the state will soon see a $1 billion month.
Sports betting on the rise
According to official data released last month, retail and online sportsbooks combined to handle $840.4 million in wagers in October, breaking the previous record of $633.6 million set in March. Wagers increased by 40.9 percent from $596.5 million in September, and up 93.4 percent from $434.6 million in October 2020.
Gross revenue increased by 2.9 percent in October to $48.3 million, up from $47 million in October 2020 and up 8.4 percent from $44.6 million in September. October’s revenue still fell short of the March high of $49.9 million in gross revenue. Taxable revenue, on the other hand, set a new high of $52.6 million in adjusted gross income, producing $8.5 million in state and local taxes.
Despite the existing online registration limitations, the Illinois sports betting sector is booming, so a brighter future when sportsbooks are untethered is feasible. A slew of new operators are set to start operating in the state, and there are surely some Illinoisans interested in placing a wager through an online sportsbook, but not enough to make the journey to a retail sportsbook just to sign up.
October’s rise was directly related to the month’s packed sports calendar. Football wagers accounted for $330.1 million over the course of five weekends, the start of the NBA season, and the hot start by the Chicago Bulls, spurred $93.3 million in basketball wagers, and the short playoff run by the Chicago White Sox also contributed to this increase.
In the same month, online betting accounted for $803.4 million in wagers, or 95.6 percent of the state’s total volume. DraftKings dominated the state in total online and retail handle, with $315.3 million, including $308.8 million in online wagers. The total handle increased from $236.5 million in September and generated $11.7 million in gross income.
With only six sportsbooks in the state, Illinois hosts far fewer online sportsbooks operators than any other major U.S. market, and still the state was able to record such impressive figures. For a state of comparison, in the same period, neighboring state Michigan recorded only $463.3 million in gross revenue across all iGaming activities, including online casinos, online sportsbooks, and the Michigan lotto.
After several months of mobile registration, Governor J. B. Pritzker was unable to renew his executive order in April, meaning state residents once again had to visit a land-based casino or a racetrack to finish setting up a sports betting account. Nevertheless, that should change soon, with the Senate and the House of Representatives passing a bill – House Bill 3136 – that would eliminate in-person registration and also legalize wagering on Illinois college teams.
Although the Illinois sports betting industry is thriving, online registration will give it a welcome boost. Most similar sports betting states have significantly more sportsbooks than Illinois, owing to the in-person registration, which has deterred many betting companies from establishing operations in the state. However, experts predict that by the end of 2022, the market will have double-digit operators.
HB 3136 accelerates the process so that online registration is available in time for the March Madness, the most popular cumulative sports betting event in the United States. As mentioned above, March 2021 was a significant betting month in the state.