Staggering Percentage Of Illinois Sports Bets Placed Online In July, Per Revenue Report

Written By Joe Boozell on September 16, 2020 - Last Updated on November 17, 2020

We have sports betting revenue numbers for the first time in Illinois.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) released the report on Tuesday, the first of its kind in the state. For those screaming from the mountaintops about the importance of mobile registration, consider this validation.

Almost 93% of sports bets made in July were placed online. Legal Illinois sportsbooks produced about $51.4 million in handle in a month, mostly devoid of traditional sports.

In total, sportsbooks generated almost $60 million in handle in March, June and July. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic closing Illinois casinos, there weren’t any bets placed in April or May.

Sportsbooks were only open for six days in March, and they posted nearly $1 million in handle.

Soccer, baseball and golf were the most popular sports to bet on in July. And, if you’ll recall, MLB didn’t start its season until July 23, when most of the month had already passed.

Numbers an encouraging sign for August, beyond

BetRivers was the only live mobile sportsbook in Illinois in July. As mentioned above, there weren’t many sports in action at the time. The online sports betting site was responsible for almost all of the July handle.

The NBA, NHL and MLB were in full swing during August. DraftKings also launched its mobile app in the month, and on Aug. 21, people were able to register for it online. FanDuel launched on Aug. 28.

Granted, Gov. JB Pritzker re-instated the in-person registration requirement from July 26 until Aug. 21. But, by then, people had been able to sign up for BetRivers online since June.

September should bring an incredibly interesting and potentially robust revenue report. The NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB are all in action, which means more betting on the Chicago Bears. There are five online betting apps and mobile registration has been in effect for the first 19 days of the month. And it may be extended for the full month.

Considering that 93% of July bets were placed online, sportsbooks could generate a gaudy handle in September.

How did Illinois sportsbooks fare?

In July, the overall handle was nearly $51.4 million. The hold was 7.05%, resulting in $3.36 million in revenue for sportsbooks. That comes out to $545,000 in tax revenue.

In March, the hold was similar at 7.58%. But despite only six days of action and no mobile presence, sportsbooks raked in $72,000 in revenue. That comes out to a tad less than $11,000 in tax revenue.

One quirky note from that March period: Of the $950,000 in handle, parlays accounted for almost a third ($303,000). At the time, college basketball and the NBA were the most popular wagering sports.

As you might expect, BetRivers dominated July due to its mobile monopoly. The retail sportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton was also open, but it accounted for less than $600,000 of the $51.4 million handle.

An encouraging start riddled with uncertainty

With all things considered, more than $50 million in July handle despite Illinois’ sports betting environment is impressive. Indiana, which has eight online sportsbooks, posted a $70 million in July handle.

It bounced back with $169 million in handle in August. With William Hill’s Tuesday launch, there are now five online sportsbooks in the Prairie State compared to one in July.

If mobile registration remains, Illinois has loads of potential. But where do the state and its sports bettors go from here?

There’s a chance the in-person registration requirement could return after Sept. 19. We already knew the decision was crucial; the 93% online betting figure only confirms it.

People have had reasonable amounts of time to register for BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel if in-person registration returns. But it’s hard to envision swaths of new users going to a casino to sign up if it does.

Illinois could use the tax revenue right now, and the mobile sports betting numbers are striking.

Now, we wait.

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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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