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Breaking monthly state records for sportsbook wagering has seemed rather commonplace lately but for Illinois, in January it helped accomplish some rather noteworthy milestones.
Illinois’s sports betting handle soared over the half-billion mark in wagering handle and reached a record $581.6 million in January. Much more important the Prairie State also saw revenue reach an all-time high of $49.4m during the month.
The revenue figure in January more than doubled the $23.9 million figure posted in December 2020, though the previous month’s figures were impacted by the temporary closure of casinos due to stringent COVID-19 measures.
Online wagering accounted for a large percentage of $47.1m of total revenue for the month for an approximate abundant 8.5% hold, whereas retail sportsbooks only contributed $860,392 in Illinois revenue. An eye-opening $575.2 million in handle came from the state’s mobile betting platform, which indicates a 17% increase from December’s $491.7 million. Overall, the win yielded $7.2 million in taxes for the state.
No surprise that January made the transition from football to basketball with both the NBA and NCAA college basketball leading the way. In total, basketball led with $229.7 million in wagering handle with the NFL and the end of NCAA football combining for $158.3 in betting action.
Unfortunately, due to the state’s ban on wagering for in-state college teams, sportsbooks could not capitalize on the college basketball success and high rankings of local teams including the University of Illinois and Loyola Chicago. The legislation is currently proposed to repeal the measure, allowing betting on all NCAA Division I basketball games.
Continuing their trend, DraftKings Sportsbook captured the top spot with 42.3% of all wagering in the Illinois market and $242.7 million in the betting handle. Second place went to FanDuel at $173.2 million in handle followed by BetRivers at $109.2 million in action.
All sportsbooks were helped by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s extending the opportunity for all new sports wagering sign-ups online instead of mandating customers visit an onsite state casino location. An amendment is being considered by the Illinois legislature to make remote signups permanent.
Not tabulated in January nor February figures will be numbers for the launch of the popular Barstool Sportsbook being added to the current Illinois operator roster.
Penn National Gaming, partner of Barstool began operating in the Illinois market last Friday in anticipation of the Men’s NCAA College Basketball Tournament. While conceding competitors including DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers enjoyed head starts, PNG is counting on Barstool’s built-in fast-growing audience who love to wager on sports.
Jay Snowden, Penn National’s CEO, noted the Barstool brand has had a presence in Chicago and across Illinois for nearly a decade. Nationally, the online outlet generates 54 million unique visitors each month. Its target audience is Millennial and Generation Z sports fans. He added:
As the only gaming operator with a fully integrated sports media and entertainment partner, our customers in Illinois will now be able to engage with these Barstool personalities through the online Barstool Sportsbook and enjoy their unique take on Chicago sports.
It is unfair to competitively rank US state sportsbook handle due to constantly changing factors and also because states vary in population size and with legislative rule differences. However, it is encouraging to see Illinois quickly move behind New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada into the fourth spot.
With February not yet tabulated it is not that far-fetched with Barstool counted to see Illinois potentially moved a state slot higher in March among what currently is being labeled in the US as “the big four”.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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