FanDuel Made A Killing In Illinois In May Despite Overall Handle Dropping. How?

Posted By Joe Boozell on July 8, 2021

While DraftKings typically leads all Illinois sportsbooks in handle each month, it’s FanDuel that consistently makes the most money of any operator in the state.

In 2021, FanDuel profited the most of all the sportsbooks in Illinois in four out of five months. That’s despite only leading in handle once.

The Illinois Gaming Board’s May revenue report was particularly eye-opening.

DraftKings recorded a handle figure about $14 million higher than FanDuel, yet FanDuel nearly tripled DraftKings in revenue, raking in $20.2 million for the month.

Kevin Hennessy, FanDuel’s director of publicity, told PlayIllinois in a statement:

“We are thrilled with our trajectory in the state of Illinois. We are now the clear leader in revenue following a strong performance of our NBA offerings and our industry leading same game parlay product. Illinois customers can expect more market leading promotions like risk-free same game parlay as we head into the summer.”

Here are the complete May revenue splits of the Illinois sports betting operators:

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$170,109,570$166,227,839$3,881,731$7,210,758$1,065,214$71,669
Fairmount ParkFanDuel$156,267,145$155,574,427$692,718$20,168,670$2,888,467$239,888
RiversBetRivers$89,002,282$76,722,864$12,279,418$5,240,504$778,553$66,934
Hollywood AuroraBarstool$39,649,164$38,201,803$1,447,361$1,472,823$251,825$16,320
HawthornePointsBet$38,967,969$37,401,188$1,566,781$2,321,923$365,593$24,271
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill$9,114,351$8,374,915$739,436-$128,245$9,366$588
ArgosyN/A$2,672,277$0$2,672,277$338,081$52,094$0
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,169,653$0$1,169,653$167,282$23,080$0
Par-A-DiceN/A$327,350$0$327,350-$236,850$458$0
Total$507,279,761$482,503,036$24,776,725$36,554,946$5,434,650$419,670

FanDuel’s hold percentage for the month was 12.9%. Next among Illinois operators? PointsBet, at 5.9%.

FanDuel accounted for a whopping 55.2% of all Illinois sports betting revenue in May.

The natural follow-up question: How is FanDuel doing this?

Some luck is usually baked into months like these for sports betting operators. But moving that aside, leaning into parlay bets has proven to be a good business strategy.

Parlay bets extremely popular at FanDuel Illinois

As we’ve written before, sportsbooks clean up on parlay betting typically. And, in Illinois, FanDuel is the most popular place to bet parlays.

Illinoisans bet $110.2 million on parlays in May. Sportsbook operators profited $20.7 million off of those bets.

For context, no individual sport was nearly as profitable for the books as parlays were, which is the norm. Basketball betting, which registered the highest handle for any sport in May ($154.3 million), produced $7.1 million in revenue.

So, if parlay bets are the most profitable type of wager for operators, it makes sense to lean into them. And that’s what FanDuel has done.

In May, Illinoisans bet $54.9 million on parlays at FanDuel. The sportsbook with the next highest total? DraftKings, at $33.5 million.

Since DraftKings has the higher overall handle, it seems to be the most popular sportsbook for individual game bets. But for parlays, FanDuel is king.

It makes even more sense when you consider FanDuel’s marketing and promotional strategy. Its “Same Game Parlays” — betting multiple props on the same game, which other books don’t allow — have become extremely popular. You’ve likely seen plenty of advertisements about them.

And even if a same-game parlay isn’t as advantageous to the operator as a standard parlay, it’s still a far better proposition than an individual spread bet.

FanDuel also has a strong NBA brand

Basketball is not nearly the revenue driver that parlays are. But, in May, it was a better bet for operators than baseball, another popular spring sport for Illinois customers.

FanDuel accounted for 26.6% of basketball handle in IL for the month. That’s a slightly higher share than the 21.9% it captured for baseball.

And in Illinois, basketball was significantly more profitable for sportsbooks than baseball. IL operators made $7.1 million off of hoops bets compared to $1 million off of baseball bets.

FanDuel, like DraftKings, has clearly prioritized the NBA. FanDuel has a partnership with Turner Sports and is frequently featured on TNT’s NBA coverage. Charles Barkley, one of the most well-known former players around, has an exclusive deal with FanDuel.

Rob Perez, known as “World Wide Wob” on NBA Twitter, works for FanDuel now. FanDuel is also the official sports betting partner of The Ringer, which produces tons of popular hoops content.

You get the gist. FanDuel has clearly gravitated toward the NBA, and it’s paying off in a post-March Madness world.

But, of course, the parlays are the real key here. And, as long as they remain popular at FanDuel, it should keep raking in the profits in Illinois.

Photo by Dreamstime.com
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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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