2021 Illinois Sports Betting Numbers: Breaking Down Key Stats From A Banner Year

Written By Joe Boozell on February 8, 2022 - Last Updated on February 11, 2022
Carlos Rodon

We are fresh off of the first full year of Illinois sports betting, and as expected, it was a big one.

Illinois recorded more than $7 billion in total sports betting handle. Operators made almost half a billion in revenue, resulting in $84.7 million in state and local taxes.

All the numbers are massive … and compared to what we’ll see in the future, small numbers.

The IL sports betting market will look a lot different in the coming years. By March 5, in-person registration will go away. We already know BetMGM Sportsbook in Illinois is launching soon, and other sports betting apps are likely on the way.

So, the end of 2021 is a key snapshot in time. From every angle, we’re breaking down the final sports betting numbers of the year ( Jump to rest of the story here.):

The most popular sport was… basketball?

Football is known as the king of sports betting, so what gives?

There are a few explanations for this. First, basketball has the volume edge over football.

The Super Bowl may be the most popular sports betting day on the calendar. But March Madness trumps it in terms of overall handle, revenue, etc., because of the sheer amount of games.

It’s not a perfect comparison to the football vs. basketball picture as a whole, but it’s a similar idea. College basketball season is longer than college football season, and the NBA takes up way more of the sports calendar than the NFL.

In a typical year, the NBA season spans about eight months. The NFL season spans a little more than five, and even though the final few games are immensely popular, they are still just a few games.

Also, the 2021 calendar weirdness plays a role here. Because of COVID-19 delays, the NBA season started in late December 2020 and didn’t wrap up until July (it usually concludes in June). The NBA packed a ton of games in during that time.

In a normal year, it will be interesting to see if football closes the gap on basketball. Still, the lesson here is to not underestimate volume.

DraftKings, FanDuel dominating

As you can see in the graphic above, DraftKings and FanDuel in Illinois each have at least a 30% market share by handle. So much for that penalty box.

Together, they made up 67.1% of 2021 sports betting handle in IL. Those are absurd numbers.

They will, however, likely come down in 2022 and beyond. More sportsbooks will launch, increasing the competition. And once online registration returns, Barstool and Caesars by William Hill will have more of an opportunity to register new users. In particular, Barstool stands to gain a lot from mobile registration.

While DraftKings led the state in handle, FanDuel was first in revenue. Why? The main reason was parlays, where FanDuel is the market leader. Parlays have a high margin for sportsbooks, and Illinoisans bet $1.5 billion on them in 2021.

More Illinois tidbits, projections

Sports betting generated $84.7 million in total tax revenue last year. In 2022, that number should clear $100 million.

Operator revenue, meanwhile, finished at $534.1 million in 2021. Expect that figure to fall somewhere between there and $1 billion next year.

Illinois may have had in-person registration for most of 2021, but mobile betting was still easily the most popular method of placing wagers. A whopping 95.4% of handle came from online bets last year.

That number will likely hold steady in 2022, but it shows just how much room for growth there is in other areas. There are likely lots of people out there who would sign up for a sportsbook if it was possible online but are not willing to go to a retail sportsbook to do so.

Our market may not be New York-sized, but prepare to see some jarring sports betting numbers out of the Land of Lincoln in 2022.

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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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