Illinois Sports Betting Closes 2020 Strong with Record Near Half Billion December Handle

  • Illinois moved into 4th place in US sports wagering via online only wagering opportunity
  • Although Illinois recorded record handle, revenue was sharply down vs. previous month
  • DraftKings Sportsbook & FanDuel top leaders, but PointsBet & Caesars Sportsbook fared best in December

Closed retail onsite sports wagering facilities did not deter Illinois sports bettors in December. Due to COVID-19 and orders by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, all wagering was mandated to be online only.

No problem for those keeping score at the Illinois Gaming Board who reported more than $491.7 million wagered on events in December 2020. That reflected a new high in handle for the seventh consecutive month.

In total, Illinois’ retail and online sportsbooks produced these figures for 2020:

  • $1.9 billion in wagering handle.
  • $125.5 million in taxable revenue.
  • $20.2 million in state and local taxes.

December’s impressive handle helped Illinois land in fourth place among US states, currently legislating sports wagering. Though Illinois’ $491.7 figure was far off leader New Jersey’s almost $1 billion marks for the month, it represented the undoubted power and convenience of online wagering for the state.

Mobile sports wagering handle for December represented an increase of 13.4% compared to November figures ($433.69 million).

Illinois sports betting revenue in December was $23.87 million, down 42.2% from November ($41.29 million). Tax collections were also reduced due to the reduction in win percentage. The December sports betting tax was $3.82 million, down 42.2% from November’s Illinois tax share ($6.62 million).

A Bottom-Line Difference

The win revenue and corresponding tax rates between November and December reflect what an unpredictable and fickle business sports wagering can be for all US states.

Although there are no guarantees, monthly win rates for operators are generally estimated to be approximately 5.5%-6.5% based on historical data. November’s win (hold) rate was an unusually high 9.2%, where December’s results were less than usual 4.85%.

By the Books

As expected, DraftKings led the way with $193.7 million wagered solely through online wagering. Not too far behind in second was FanDuel with $143.1 million in sports wagering handle. BetRivers also had a strong December, totaling $110.6 million in wagering handle but experienced a drop off of 12.2% from the $125.95 million reported in November.

PointsBet and Caesars Sportsbook both recorded increases from November to complete the group of mobile operators. PointsBet was up more than 20% to nearly $31.9 million in the handle, while Caesars Sportsbook had the largest increase in December at 61.5% with sports bettors placing nearly $7.6 million in wagers in comparison to November’s total of $4.7 million.

New sportsbook operators including Penn National’s popular Barstool-branded app, are expected to reach new Illinois sports bettors and create ancillary sources of revenue, surely to push numbers further in coming months.

NFL and NCAA college football betting topped all sports in December with $204.4 million, reflecting 41.6% of the state’s handle. Basketball wagering was next with $441.2 million, or 29.3% of Illinois’ total handle.

January and February’s reports are also expected to be robust counting the NFL playoffs, NBA & NCAA basketball, NHL hockey. Also, the continued trend for mobile wagering and the option to sign-up new accounts via online access.

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Larry Gibbs

Expert on Sports Betting Industry

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]