Illinois Sets New Record, Approaches Half-A-Billion Wagered On Sports In December

Written By Joe Boozell on February 16, 2021 - Last Updated on February 22, 2021
illinois sports betting dec 2020

Illinois sportsbooks recorded $491.7 million worth of bets in December, setting yet another monthly record for the state.

It’s a jump of $42.5 million over November when sportsbooks posted a $449.2 million handle.

Sports betting operators profited $28.4 million, which generated $3.6 million in tax revenue for the state. Sportsbooks held 5.8% of the total handle.

Illinois held firm as the No. 4 sports betting state in the US. Pennsylvania, which is third, posted $548.6 million in December handle.

Illinois continues to gain ground in Pennsylvania, and it seems likely that it will jump into the No. 3 spot before long.

The most likely reason for the month-over-month handle increase? There was a busier sports calendar in December.

In addition to the NFL, college football bowl season took place in the final month of 2020. College basketball was also in action for the entirety of December, while the NBA began its season on Dec. 22.

By contrast, college basketball was only in play for the last week of November, while there was no NBA. Bowl games also attract more wagering action than typical college football slates.

As a result, college sports combined to make up $167.2 million of the $491.7 million handle. At 34%, that was the highest clip in Illinois history.

And right now, Illinois residents can’t bet on their own collegiate teams. However, a recent bill could change that by the end of 2021.

Illinois December revenue by sportsbook

Here’s a list of every Illinois sportsbook and their December numbers.

DraftKings $195.4 million
FanDuel$144.4 million
BetRivers$111.2 million
PointsBet$32 million
William Hill$8.6 million
Argosy Casino AltonN/A
Hollywood Casino JolietN/A
Hollywood Casino Aurora N/A

Once again, DraftKings led the way in handle. FanDuel and BetRivers claimed the No. 2 and 3 spots, and there was a large gulf in between third and fourth place.

This is the first time FanDuel finished ahead of BetRivers in handle.

As a reminder, retail sportsbooks were closed for the entire month of December. And though online betting is far more prominent, that has a marginal effect on total handle.

In October, for instance, Illinoisans bet $24.8 million at retail sportsbooks. That number dipped to $15.5 million in November, when COVID-19 spiked in Illinois.

In December, that number dropped to zero. So in projecting the Illinois total going forward, it’s likely fair to tack on at least another $25 million or so when accounting for retail betting.

Casinos reopened in late January, so we likely won’t see much of an impact in the next report. Come February, though, we’ll start to see the difference.

We also already know that Illinois recorded $45.6 million worth of Super Bowl bets, so February’s report will be intriguing on a few levels.

When will new operators come to Illinois?

It’s been about five months since a new online sportsbook has launched in Illinois.

While the handle continues to grow thanks to market maturity, new operators would also help the cause. With just five online sportsbooks, Illinois customers have far fewer options than other comparable states.

At least one more sportsbook should be on the way soon. Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden says Barstool plans to go live in Illinois in time for March Madness, which is just a few weeks away.

Of course, that’s not definitive. But Penn already has its license, so that’s one less bureaucratic hurdle to clear.

The BetMGM Illinois sportsbook and Unibet sports app also plan to launch in IL in 2021, but both still need Illinois Gaming Board approval.

They are both pending applicants. Unibet has a market access deal with Argosy Casino Alton, while BetMGM needs FanDuel’s license transfer to finalize before it can assume the Par-A-Dice Casino license.

Once Illinois approaches double-digit operators, it can likely reach a new ceiling.

For now, fourth place in a matter of months isn’t too shabby.

Photo by Craig Ruttle / AP
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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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