Where Illinois’ $305 Million Sports Betting Market Stands, And Where It May Be Headed

Written By Joe Boozell on November 17, 2020 - Last Updated on June 23, 2021

Illinois recorded $305.2 million in September sports wagering handle, and it shot into fourth place in the US. Illinois is the fastest-growing sports betting market in the country.

The market is far from mature, but we’re learning more and more about it with each revenue report released. So far, here’s what we know about the Illinois sports betting market, and what we may see in the future.

A three-headed sportsbook monster

BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks accounted for about $289.7 million (95%) of the Land of Lincoln’s September handle.

A caveat: PointsBet launched on Sept. 12, and so did William Hill three days later. While neither operator was in business for the entire month, there is still a massive gulf between the third and fourth place position in Illinois.

Expect PointsBet and William Hill Sports Betting to post stronger October figures, especially the former considering its prioritization of the state. But both have plenty of ground to make up to crack the top three.

Déjà vu, anyone? Yes, we used similar language in discussing BetRivers’ domination in August. That’s when they carved out a massive 84% market share.

DraftKings and FanDuel each made up a lot of ground in September. Here are the full numbers:

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$98,316,259$95,920,730$2,395,529$2,045,757$33,263$0
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill$2,216,866$1,331,231$885,635$496,215$12,173$95
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,141,444$0$1,141,444$158,037$20,160$0
Hollywood AuroraN/A$1,088,023$0$1,088,023$145,492$17,276$0

We should note that BetRivers easily posted the best revenue numbers in the state in September. That can likely be attributed to DraftKings and FanDuel’s aggressive customer acquisition strategy, frequently offering bonus bets and enhanced lines.

BetRivers, meanwhile, appears to have acquired most of its customers over the summer, when it was the only live operator in the state.

Based on BetRivers’ significant head start and DraftKings and FanDuel’s significant brand presence just about everywhere, all three will be forces in Illinois going forward.

It will be particularly fascinating to see if DraftKings can usurp BetRivers in October. For now, it’s going to take a lot for any new operator to jump into the top three.

Illinois, in context

Illinois is rapidly ascending in the US sports betting market. Here are the top five states in September by handle:

  1. New Jersey: $748.6 million
  2. Nevada: $575.1 million
  3. Pennsylvania: $462.8 million
  4. Illinois: $305.2 million
  5. Colorado: $207.7 million

Illinois is the youngest market on that list, and it could reach Pennsylvania levels once it matures. The two states have similar populations.

Some big names also figure to join the Illinois market in the future; there are only five online sportsbooks as of now. Barstool, BetMGM sports betting and Unibet will likely enter the mix in 2021.

It took all of three months for Illinois to pass Colorado and Indiana, both of whom are considered successes in the sports betting world.

The strange thing? None of this would have happened if the market unfolded as lawmakers intended.

All this wouldn’t have been possible if Gov. JB Pritzker hadn’t suspended the in-person registration mandate several times, as he has. And based on the way COVID-19 is trending in Illinois, he likely won’t reverse his policy any time soon.

About 93% of the September handle came online, a number similar to August and July. It’s impossible to know for sure, but one would can wonder what numbers would look like if in-person registration were still in place.

Other Illinois revenue notes

  • FanDuel did not report adjusted gross revenue in September. According to Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter, if that section of the report reads “zero,” it means the operator wasn’t profitable for the month. The debt will carry over into the next month.
  • BetRivers may have led the state in handle, but more people placed wagers at DraftKings and FanDuel in September. That means BetRivers recorded a higher dollar amount per wager.
  • BetRivers easily had the busiest retail sportsbook of the bunch, posting $14.1 million in handle. No other retail sportsbook took in more than $3 million, which makes sense given Rivers Casino‘s proximity to Chicago.
  • Argosy Casino Alton recorded a higher handle than William Hill, despite not yet having an online sportsbook (though, it will eventually be Unibet).
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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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