Football fueled a surge in betting in September at Illinois sportsbooks, which combined to generate nearly $600 million in wagers. September’s handle was short of the state record of $633.6 million in March, dampened by an in-person online registration rule that will likely be lifted on March 5, according to PlayIllinois, which tracks the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market.
“September will set a U.S. record for legal sports betting, and Illinois was able to meet those expectations,” said Joe Boozell, lead analyst for PlayIllinois.com. “But as strong as September’s results were, in-person registration continues to limit Illinois’ ceiling. Assuming the governor signs the bill that will put an end to the rule on March 5, Illinois will begin breaking through this monthly handle plateau in spring.”
Bettors poured $596.5 million in wagers into Illinois retail and online sportsbooks in September, up 95.4% from $305.2 million in September 2020 and up 49% from $400.4 million in August, according to official data released Monday. September’s handle equates to $19.9 million in bets per day, up from $10.2 million per day in September 2020 and up from $12.9 million over the 31 days of August.
Accordingly, gross revenue rose 279.3% to $44.6 million in September from $11.8 million in September 2020 and up 36.3% from $32.7 million in August. That led to $40.0 million in adjusted gross revenue in September, yielding $6.5 million in state and local taxes.
With the first three weekends of the NFL and a full month of college games played in September, football drew $230.6 million in wagers. That is up from just $17.2 million in August. Baseball attracted $115.9 million in bets, down from $139.6 million in August. Tennis ($55.3 million) and soccer ($34.3 million) also generated significant interest.
“The NFL, and to a lesser extent college football, is irreplaceable in its ability to motivate bettors,” Boozell said. “General interest in football helps Illinois’ sportsbooks overcome the struggles of the Chicago Bears, and the ban on betting on in-state college teams. Plus, sportsbooks continued to capitalize on the playoff run by the White Sox in September.”
Only New Jersey ($1.01 billion) and Nevada ($786.7 million) attracted more bets during September than Illinois, which surpassed Pennsylvania’s $578.8 million.
Since launching legal sports betting in 2020, Illinois has generated:
- $6.5 billion in wagers, fourth most among all markets during that time
- $508.3 million in gross revenue
- $78.3 million in state taxes
“With the end to in-person registration in sight, Illinois’ future is awfully bright again,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIllinois.com. “It is not difficult to imagine a world where it is again challenging the nation’s largest sports betting markets.”
Online betting accounted for 95.5%, or $569.9 million, of the state’s handle in September. DraftKings/Casino Queen topped the state with $236.5 million in combined online and retail handle, up from $149.2 million in August. That included an Illinois-best $232.1 million in online wagers. The operator took in $8.0 million in gross revenue on September’s bets, up from $11.3 million in August.
FanDuel was again second with $156.2 million in online and retail wagers, up from $111.5 million in bets in August. $155.0 million of August’s wagers came online. FanDuel’s combined handle created $18.0 million in gross revenue.
The leaders were followed by:
- BetRivers/Rivers Casino ($98.5 million in wagers, including $87.3 million online; $9.3 million in revenue)
- Barstool/Hollywood Aurora ($46.5 million in wagers, including $45.3 million online; $4.2 million in revenue)
- PointsBet/Hawthorne Race Course ($43.9 million in wagers, including $41.9 million online; $3.6 million in revenue)
- Caesars by William Hill/Grand Victoria ($9.4 million in wagers, including $8.2 million online; $595,393 in revenue)
- Argosy ($3.3 million in retail wagers; $412,858 in revenue)
- Hollywood Joliet ($1.3 million in retail wagers; $257,992 in revenue)
- Par-A-Dice ($629,829 in wagers; $159,804 in revenue)
“DraftKings and FanDuel have been the main beneficiaries of Illinois’ relatively small roster of operators, which is still absent some of the nation’s largest operators, including No. 3 BetMGM,” Ramsey said. “Ideally, with the latest changes there will be renewed interest in Illinois from operators.
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