Michigan’s Thriving Market Gives Idea Of How Profitable Online Casino In Illinois Could Be

Written By Joe Boozell on April 23, 2021 - Last Updated on April 30, 2021
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Michigan’s online casino operators profited $95.1 million in March, an eye-popping figure for such a young market. It proves that an online casino market can thrive immediately, and “thrive” may be an understatement.

Is Illinois next? As we know, there is pending internet gaming legislation.

There are committee hearings on gaming proposals” set for April 28 and April 30.

There’s potential for many topics to be heard, ranging from the return of in-person sports betting registration to the revision on betting on in-state college teams.

Online casinos may also be on the agenda. If online casino becomes legal in Illinois, we should prepare to see some significant revenue numbers on a monthly basis.

In-depth coverage

Who’s For, Against Major Gaming Proposals: Illinois has several pending pieces of gaming legislation. Here’s who is arguing for and against the proposals.

Lesson of where the real money is, and it’s not sports betting

In February, Illinois was the No. 3 sports betting market in the US by handle. We’re expecting the same level in March.

In-person registration shenanigans aside, Illinois sports betting has been a success thus far.

Illinois has exceeded $500 million in sports wagering handle the last two Illinois Gaming Board reports, and should once again in March. And yet, the most Illinois sports betting operators have ever profited in a month is $49.4 million.

That’s a little more than half of what Michigan online casinos made in their second full month.

That directly affects tax revenue: MI online casinos generated $17.3 million in state and local taxes in March. IL sports betting, meanwhile, has never generated more than $8 million in tax revenue in a month.

For those who follow closely, none of this is surprising. Still, it’s a reminder of where to find the real money.

Comparing Michigan online casino to Illinois sports betting is, admittedly, apples to oranges. But if we compare MI sports betting to IL sports betting, we can get a better idea of how robust an Illinois online casino market could be.

Illinois sports betting market is larger than Michigan

While it’s worth pointing out that the Illinois sports betting market is a bit more mature than Michigan’s, IL’s numbers are simply larger.

In February, Illinoisans wagered $509.8 million on sports. Michiganders wagered $325.6 million.

In March, the Michigan sports betting handle was $383.7 million. We don’t have March Illinois figures yet; however, we with preliminary March Madness betting totals, we expect the month’s total to be more than $550 million, and that’s a conservative estimate.

Again, this all makes sense. Illinois is the sixth-largest state in the US by population, while Michigan is 10th.

So, if all other variables are common, Illinois internet casino operators could reasonably rake in $100 million per month pretty quickly.

Of course, the variables likely won’t be common.

In-person registration requirement for online casino, too

There is no in-person registration requirement for Michigan online casinos. In Illinois’ Internet Gaming Act, there is a proposed six-month, in-person registration requirement.

It’s not as restrictive as the sports betting version, as we still don’t know when that will end. Still, it means an Illinois market wouldn’t grow as quickly as Michigan’s has.

We also don’t know how many licensed casino operators would be ready to go at the time of Illinois’ hypothetical launch.

In Michigan, there were 11 online casino operators in March. In Illinois’ HB 3142, it allows for a maximum of 36 skins, but obviously, there wouldn’t be close to that many operators right away.

Like Michigan, it’s likely that the most popular casino games in Illinois would be available.

Still, we have much to learn about the potential online casino rollout in the Land of Lincoln. Though the in-person registration requirement alone is a hindrance, beyond that, the sky appears to be the limit for Illinois online casino gaming.

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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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