New Month, Old Tale: Illinois Sportsbooks Feast On Parlay Bets In November

Written By Joe Boozell on January 11, 2022 - Last Updated on January 13, 2022

Sportsbooks in Illinois profited $78.2 million in November, shattering the previous monthly record by more than $25 million.

A big reason why? Parlays.

At $166.4 million, parlays made up about 21.3% of the state’s total handle. But the books held $44.2 million of that number, meaning parlays were responsible for 56.5% of total revenue.

For the month, Illinois sportsbooks held 10% of the action, which is quite good (more on that soon). But narrow in on parlay bets, and operators held a whopping 26.5%.

If you follow this stuff, none of this is particularly surprising, as we know that the public typically loses on parlay bets over the long haul. If you don’t follow this stuff, well, now you know.

Illinois was not the only state to post huge sports betting revenue numbers in November. In fact, November was the most profitable sports betting month in US history, with a running revenue total of $658.5 million. And some states still haven’t reported their numbers.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania operators each profited at least $80 million for the month. Some months are just better for the books than others.

Here are a few other interesting nuggets from the November revenue report.

Public did much better betting on basketball

The NBA was in action for all of November, while college hoops also tipped off mid-month. And, of all the major sports, Illinoisans did the best betting on basketball.

Hoops generated $226.3 million in handle, second only to football. But sportsbooks held just 2.6% of that figure.

For context, operators held 8.2% of the football action. In Illinois, all levels (college, pro, etc.) are lumped together in the Illinois Gaming Board’s revenue report.

College basketball is known to be a sport where the lines may not be as sophisticated as some other markets, and thus, sharp bettors tend to prioritize it. You’ll typically see lots of college hoops line movement throughout the day.

Of the five most popular sports to bet on in November, basketball was the only sport in which operators held less than 7% of the total action.

Barstool seems to have overtaken PointsBet

Barstool, which recently opened a sports bar in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, has now topped PointsBet in Illinois handle for three straight months.

Here were the full splits by sportsbook:

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$288,677,536$283,808,247$4,869,290$21,886,620$3,329,535$161,985
Fairmount ParkFanDuel$216,173,347$214,386,194$1,787,153$30,184,594$4,537,741$311,776
Rivers Des PlainesBetRivers$127,825,037$112,314,429$15,510,608$13,502,621$2,071,343$184,999
Hollywood AuroraBarstool$62,132,291$60,599,518$1,532,773$5,361,769$840,078$55,518
HawthornePointsBet$57,360,048$54,644,727$2,715,321$5,661,835$874,892$79,711
Grand VictoriaCaesars$21,887,270$20,214,055$1,673,215$670,046$94,922$0
ArgosyN/A$3,768,199$0$3,768,199$648,422$93,381$0
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,448,305$0$1,448,305$263,022$35,452$0
Par-A-DiceN/A$581,333$0$581,333$48,261$21,764$418
Total$779,853,367$745,967,170$33,886,197$78,227,189$11,899,108$794,407

Barstool, as you can see, is still well behind FanDuel, DraftKings and BetRivers. But once in-person registration goes away on March 5, Barstool has more to gain than any existing operator.

That’s because it only had three weeks to register users remotely, whereas most Illinois sportsbooks had several months. In the spring, expect a big upward swing for Barstool’s numbers.

Some love for Caesars Illinois!

Caesars by William Hill, formerly William Hill, has long been an afterthought in Illinois. It is usually a distant sixth out of the six operators in monthly handle and revenue.

That is still true, but Caesars posted its best month in the Land of Lincoln yet, notching $21.9 million in handle. It was the first time Caesars cleared the $20 million threshold.

To say that Caesars is a sleeping giant in Illinois may be overstating it, but don’t expect it to remain dormant for long. In New York, where online sports betting just launched, Caesars has been extremely aggressive in offering bonuses to acquire customers. It is offering up to $3,300 in free bets.

When William Hill launched in IL in the fall of 2020, it wasn’t offering many promotions as the rebrand was in progress. But once March rolls around, expect Caesars to make a lot more noise.

Photo by AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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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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