Sports betting slows, but Illinois quickest ever to $5 billion in wagering

By | August 6, 2021


Wagering at Illinois sportsbooks slowed in June to below $500 million for the first time since December 2020 while revenue once again surged, as the effects of summer’s sports calendar and in-person registration requirements continued to be felt. Even as the Prairie State remains in line with trends seen in most major U.S. markets, Illinois managed to reach $5 billion in lifetime handle quicker than any market in U.S. history, according to analysts from PlayIllinois, which tracks the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market.

“Illinois sportsbooks is very much continuing down the same path as most major U.S. markets in June, with revenue surging despite the seasonal headwinds working to keep handle down,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for the Network, which includes “Fortunately for them, sportsbooks only have to endure one more month of sluggish action before the fall sports season reignites the industry.”

Illinois’ retail and online sportsbooks took in $476.5 million in wagers in June, down 6.1% from $507.3 million in May, according to official data released Thursday. That is the lowest handle in the state since sportsbooks collected $449.2 million in November 2020. The day-by-day pace of betting slowed to $15.9 million over the 30 days of June, which was down from $16.9 million per day in May.

The month’s handle placed Illinois No. 3 in the U.S. in June, behind New Jersey ($766.9 million) and Nevada ($545.5 million), but ahead of Pennsylvania ($420.2 million). More impressive, though, June’s handle pushed the lifetime total for the state to $5.1 billion. Illinois is just the fourth state to reach $5 billion, and the state’s sportsbooks did it in 16 months, breaking New Jersey’s record of 18 months.

“Even with all the twists and turns over the last year, namely the back-and-forth with in-person registration requirements and pandemic restrictions, Illinois continues to break new ground,” said Joe Boozell, analyst for “Illinois bettors remain highly engaged, keeping the state entrenched among the nation’s sports betting heavyweights like Nevada and New Jersey.”

As June’s handle fell, gross gaming revenue rose 31.8% to $48.2 million from $36.6 million in May. That is the third highest revenue total in state history, only surpassed by the record $49.9 million set in March and $49.4 million in January. July’s gross revenue produced $47.5 million in adjusted gross revenue, yielding $7.7 million in state and local taxes.

The revenue jump is a product of the way bettors tend to engage with summer sports.

Basketball remained the top sport, attracting $126.9 million in bets, which was down from $154.3 million in wagering in May. Baseball betting remained relatively flat, producing $126.7 million in bets, up from $126.1 million in May.

Meanwhile, parlay bets swelled to $101.1 million in bets, generating a whopping $22.8 million in revenue for sportsbooks. Tennis jumped to $40.3 million in wagers from $32.6 million in May.

“Bettors interact with individual sports like golf and tennis differently than major U.S. team sports like football, placing more futures bets and single-game parlay bets that carry lower odds to win,” Ramsey said. “For sportsbooks those bets are particularly important during the summer when volume drops. And it puts sportsbooks in an excellent position as football season approaches.”

$451.7 million, or 94.8%, of June’s bets were made online. DraftKings/Casino Queen remained in the market lead with $160.2 million in combined online and retail handle, down from $170.1 million in May. June’s handle included $157.1 million of online bets and $14.0 million in gross gaming revenue.

FanDuel’s online and retail sportsbooks attracted $156.3 million in bets in June, which was flat from May. The month’s bets, $155.3 million of which came online, generated a market-leading $20.3 million in gross gaming revenue.

BetRivers/Rivers Casino rose to $83.2 million in combined handle, including $71.2 million in online wagering. That led to $7.5 million in gross gaming revenue.

The leaders were followed by:

  • PointsBet/Hawthorne Race Course ($35.6 million in wagers, including $33.6 million online; $3.4 million in revenue)
  • Barstool/Hollywood Aurora ($30.4 million in wagers, including $28.7 million online; $2.1 million in revenue)
  • William Hill/Grand Victoria ($6.6 million in wagers, including $5.9 million online; $504,006 in revenue)
  • Argosy ($2.7 million in retail wagers; $359,010 in revenue)
  • Hollywood Joliet ($1.2 million in wagers; $95,949 in revenue)
  • Par-A-Dice ($360,804 in wagers; -$69,131 in revenue)

The fight for market share was largely static in June. This as lawmakers continue to grapple with in-person registration requirements and a $20 million licensing fee for online-only operators.

“Without a legislative fix, in-person registration will continue to be an issue that alters the market,” Boozell said. “Worse, if no operator pays the hefty online-only fee when those licenses become available in December it could make in-person registration permanent. We will see if legislators are able to either lower the price of the online-only licenses to make them more attractive or make it so that the online-only licenses aren’t the trigger for remote registration.”

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