A Deep Dive Into Barstool Sportsbook’s First Month In Illinois

Posted By Joe Boozell on May 12, 2021

Barstool Sportsbook launched in Illinois on March 11, just a few days before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

How is Barstool in Illinois doing so far? Well, it depends on how you frame it. But, all things considered, it seems to be a successful launch for Barstool.

Of course, Barstool (and the other sportsbooks in Illinois) received some brutal news in April, when state Gov. JB Pritzker didn’t renew the executive order to allow online sports betting registration.

That’s most damaging to new and potential operators.

Therefore, Barstool only had about three weeks to acquire customers remotely. Barstool’s sign-up hub is at the popular Hollywood Casino Aurora, which is around 40 miles from Chicago. In general, sports bettors are reluctant to drive anywhere to create an account.

Here’s how Barstool performed in March compared to its five online competitors.

Barstool finished fifth in Illinois sports betting handle

Let’s take a look at the full Illinois betting splits for March 2021:

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$207,621,175$203,880,264$3,740,911$14,677,143$1,900,432$131,705
Fairmount ParkFanDuel$195,190,768$194,869,605$321,163$14,481,253$1,912,253$153,828
RiversBetRivers$106,860,316$95,677,538$11,182,777$9,240,384$1,237,767$108,241
HawthornePointsBet$54,964,445$53,559,023$1,405,422$5,107,770$669,364$32,997
Hollywood AuroraBarstool$48,873,737$47,790,297$1,083,440$6,273,753$803,361$63,937
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill$14,166,187$13,268,449$897,738-$270,456$15,719$2,197
ArgosyN/A$4,070,647$0$4,070,647$410,477$64,063$0
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,239,397$0$1,239,397$127,344$16,700$0
Par-A-DiceN/A$628,286$0$628,286-$163,180$27,998$638
Total$633,614,957$609,045,176$24,569,781$49,884,489$6,647,655$493,543

William Hill was the only online sportsbook to finish behind Barstool in handle. While that doesn’t sound great in a vacuum, there are a few key factors to consider.

First, Barstool missed out on 10 days of potential handle, as it launched on March 11. So, while it finished behind PointsBet, its handle per day was higher.

Barstool took in about $2.33 million per day in bets. Multiply that by 31 days, and you get $72.23 million for the month.

That’s still fourth place behind DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers. But considering how much Illinois handle ballooned in March, all of the numbers are gaudy. A $72.23 million monthly handle for any individual sportsbook is impressive.

We’ve yet to touch on perhaps the most positive indicator for Barstool.

Barstool had highest hold percentage in March

Despite finishing fifth in handle for the month, Barstool finished fourth in revenue.

It registered a 12.8% hold, easily the highest of any book. Pour one out for the “Can’t Lose Parlays.”

By contrast, DraftKings in Illinois led in handle once again with $207.6 million in bets. It held 7% of that figure.

As a whole, Illinois sportsbooks produced a hold percentage of 7.9.

But is that inflated hold percentage sustainable for Barstool? Based on what we’ve seen in other states, the answer is … maybe?

Sometimes, books have outlier months.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, Barstool notched a whopping 19.2% hold in December. But fast-forward to March, and the number plummeted to 5.7%.

It’s a similar story in Michigan, where Barstool has had “normal” months mixed in with a big win for the book. Unlike PA, Michigan has only been live for a few months.

Keep in mind that it’s a small sample size in the US, but the early trends suggest that Barstool will be more prone to double-digit hold percentage months than competitors based on the type of betting it attracts.

And considering its supposedly low customer acquisition cost compared to other competitors, the handle figure certainly doesn’t tell the whole story.

Projecting Barstool in Illinois moving forward

Moving forward, expect to see Barstool finish in fourth place in IL in handle on a monthly basis.

The per-day numbers suggest that Barstool will pass PointsBet in April but fall short of BetRivers. Barstool will also likely finish fourth in revenue in Illinois for the foreseeable future, though may challenge BetRivers.

But what if online registration was still in place? Obviously, Barstool would have had more growth potential in the Land of Lincoln.

In the online registration world, it’s not hard to envision a scenario where Barstool surpasses BetRivers as the No. 3 sportsbook in Illinois by handle and revenue. DraftKings and FanDuel rapidly gained ground on BetRivers with remote registration in place, and Barstool likely would have done the same.

With that said, it doesn’t appear that Barstool will challenge DraftKings or FanDuel in Illinois regardless of the sign-up environment.

But it would have been easy to see Barstool doing $100 million per month in handle next football season; now, that seems unlikely barring a legislative fix.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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