Why Caesars And Barstool Have So Much To Gain Once In-Person Registration Goes Away

Written By Joe Boozell on February 18, 2022 - Last Updated on March 4, 2022
Caesars Sportsbook

Every Illinois sportsbook has something to gain when online registration returns on March 5, but it benefits some operators more than others based on the current climate. Today, we’re zeroing in on a couple in particular: Caesars by William Hill and Barstool.

It’s been about 11 months since you could sign up for Illinois sports betting sites online.

Of course, most sports bettors took advantage of a seven-ish month period of online registration in 2020 and 2021. As a result, Illinois recorded over $7 billion in bets in 2021, the third-highest mark in the US.

Untapped potential for Caesars in Illinois

Take a look at Illinois sports betting revenue numbers, and Caesars is the last among online brands in every key metric. Barstool and PointsBet, meanwhile, typically wrestle for fourth place out of the six operators.

Here are the December 2021 numbers:

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$294,985,404$290,351,200$4,634,204$7,458,441$957,719$78,212
Fairmount ParkFanDuel$232,243,488$230,561,954$1,681,534$13,860,860$1,939,242$133,627
Rivers Des PlainesBetRivers$133,364,051$116,567,365$16,796,686$7,637,398$1,042,525$95,757
Hollywood AuroraBarstool$56,136,844$53,495,432$2,641,412$2,327,826$353,447$24,488
Grand VictoriaCaesars$15,464,408$13,689,285$1,775,123$657,828$103,859$0
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,359,485$0$1,359,485$92,296$8,623$0

Caesars, which was then simply William Hill, launched in Illinois in September 2020. Its marketing was essentially nonexistent; promos were few and far between.

That was mostly a function of the business flux. Caesars has since ramped up its spending elsewhere, but since Illinois has had in-person registration for almost a year, it hasn’t gone all-in on the Land of Lincoln.

Take New York, for instance — where sports betting is now legal — Caesars is offering extremely generous sign-up bonuses. In Illinois, prepare to see more JB Smoove ads, as Caesars is becoming much more aggressive with its marketing push nationally.

It may not compete with the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel in IL. But come football season 2022, it would be surprising if Caesars in Illinois was struggling to clear $20 million in monthly handle as it does now.

All about timing for Barstool

The case for Barstool is simpler: It didn’t have much time to register customers online in Illinois.

It had three weeks, to be precise. Barstool launched in IL in mid-March and, by early April, we had in-person registration once again.

Taking that into account, Barstool’s Illinois numbers are pretty impressive. Chicago is one of the more popular Barstool markets, and the company even opened up a Barstool sports bar in River North.

Again, don’t expect Barstool to compete with the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings in Illinois. But challenging BetRivers for the No. 3 spot in market share could be in play.

The Illinois sports betting market is unique

Illinois is comparable with Pennsylvania on a monthly basis for sports betting numbers. But PA has 13 online sportsbooks compared to the six we have in Illinois.

It’s rare for such a big market to have so few sportsbooks, but that’s a function of COVID-19 weirdness (and policy weirdness).

BetMGM Sportsbook will be the seventh online provider to launch in Illinois, as it is expected to be up and running in time to place bets on March Madness. There are also three mystery online-only license applicants, but it remains to be seen when they will gain approval.

This is all a way of saying that DraftKings and FanDuel’s dominance in IL (a combined 67% market share in 2021) is not normal, and there is room for more operators to have a significant footing. That’s not the case in most states where sports betting is booming.

At some point, the Illinois sports betting market will be normal. And March 5 serves as a key turning point.

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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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