Illinois Approaches $300 Million In March Madness Wagering With In-Person Registration In The Rearview Mirror

Written By Joe Boozell on April 13, 2022
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Illinoisans collectively bet $286.2 million on the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament, according to figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).

It’s a significant jump from last year, when March Madness handle was approximately $200 million. In-person sports betting registration ended on March 5 this year, paving the way for record totals from the Land of Lincoln.

March Madness betting generated $14.2 million in profits for Illinois online sportsbooks, resulting in $2.1 million in tax revenue for the state. Sportsbooks held 5% of the total handle, a relatively low figure. That means the public fared reasonably well, as hold percentages have hovered closer to 10% in Illinois.

For reference, Illinoisans wagered about $61 million on the Super Bowl, far less than March Madness. However, sportsbooks profited $9.5 million on the event, not much less than the final March Madness revenue.

A whopping 95.8% of the total handle from the big dance came from online bets. It was legal to bet on Illinois college teams in person for the first time this year, but considering the restrictive policy and the fact the IL schools didn’t make it out of the first weekend, that doesn’t appear to have had an impact.

As expected, Rivers Casino led all retail sportsbooks in handle at $3.1 million.

The IGB also reported on how much of the handle came from pregame vs. live bets, offering an interesting look into how Illinois sports bettors behave.

In total, about 67% of the handle came from pregame bets compared to 33% from live bets.

Let’s take a look at how each Illinois online sportsbook fared and look ahead at what the numbers mean for the IL industry.

Illinois March Madness revenue by sportsbook

Here are the handle and revenue numbers for each online sportsbook. Note that these figures do not include casinos that don’t have an online presence.

  • DraftKings: $105.2 million ($1.78 million in revenue)
  • FanDuel: $73.8 million ($3.1 million)
  • BetRivers: $28.8 million ($2 million)
  • PointsBet: $27.8 million ($5.7 million)
  • Barstool: $23.4 million (-$6,759)
  • BetMGM: $13.4 million ($723,979)
  • Caesars: $12 million ($701,111)

The first thing that stands out is PointsBet’s revenue number despite a middle-of-the-pack handle figure. PointsBet held about 20% of the total action.

It’s especially interesting when you notice Barstool lost money in Illinois during March Madness.

And of course, it’s always worth noting how a new sportsbook performs early on. BetMGM Illinois was sixth of seven online sportsbooks, but it’s a decent start considering how far behind it was compared to competitors.

Finally, while Caesars IL is still last, it is no longer an afterthought. In the past, a $12 million month would have been significant. Caesars may not challenge the top dogs in Illinois, but it should carve out a nice business in the Prairie State.

What does this mean for the future of IL sports betting?

These robust March Madness betting numbers fell in line with our original projections.

For the month, we set the over/under for Illinois sports betting handle at $900 million. That number is still in play, and we should receive the full revenue report in May.

New York recently released full March numbers, and it recorded $1.6 billion in total handle. Beyond that, reporting has been scarce in terms of the top states.

These IL numbers solidify the idea that Illinois can be the No. 2 sports betting market in the US come football season. It will jockey with Nevada and New Jersey for that spot in the near future.

Until California and Texas come along, that is.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, and 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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