Illinois Skyrockets To No. 4 Sports Betting Market In US

Written By Joe Boozell on November 13, 2020 - Last Updated on March 3, 2021

It certainly didn’t take long for Illinois to become the No. 4 sports betting market in the US. Could the top spot be in its future?

The Prairie State posted $305.2 million in handle for September, rising from $140 million in August. BetRivers led the way with a 36.9% market share, but DraftKings and FanDuel are beginning to close the gap.

September was poised to be a big revenue month in Illinois, and it delivered.

There were plenty of factors to support the state’s success. Mobile registration was in place for the entire month, the first time that’s been the case in the market’s infancy stages.

Furthermore, there were five online sportsbooks in Illinois. BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel were online for the entire month, while PointsBet and William Hill joined the fray in mid-September.

Perhaps most importantly, football returned at the NFL and college levels. Throw MLB and the NBA playoffs into the mix, and September featured a loaded sports calendar.

Illinois tops Indiana for first time in September

Neighboring Indiana posted $207 million in handle in September, setting a record of its own. But it only took a few months for Illinois to pass the Hoosier State.

Illinois also surpassed Colorado in September.

IL sportsbooks made $6.84 million in revenue, down from $7.2 million in August. That was good for a 2.24% hold.

As a result, the state added $1.03 million in tax money to its coffers, while Cook County added over $82,000.

Pennsylvania, which has roughly the same population as Illinois, recorded $462.8 million in handle in September.

If remote registration remains in place, Illinois is headed in that direction as the market matures.

Also topping both July and August, just over 97% of wagers were placed online in September.

BetRivers leads the way again, but competition closing in

In August, BetRivers carved out a massive 84% market share. It was the only online sportsbook live for the entire month and had the advantage of being able to register users remotely in June and July.

No other Illinois sportsbook was live during those months, giving BetRivers a significant head start.

It still led the market in September, posting about $112.69 million in handle. But its competitors are starting to bridge the gap.

Here’s a look at how every Illinois sportsbook fared in September:

BetRivers$112.7 million
DraftKings$98.3 million
FanDuel$78.6 million
PointsBet$8.88 million
Sportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton (retail only)$2.3 million
William Hill $2.2 million
Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Joliet (retail only)$1.1 million
Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Aurora (retail only)$1.08 million

The other four books’ eating into BetRivers’ dominance means the market for sports betting in IL is starting to mature. DraftKings was second in market share at 32.2%, with FanDuel claiming around 25.7% of total handle in the state.

In both cases, online handle carried the load. For DraftKings, $96.15 million of its total or over 97.8% of handle came from Internet bets. On FanDuel’s side, the breakdown skewed even heavier in the favor of online bets, as the retail book at Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria accounted for less than 0.3% of the total.

It doesn’t look like that breakdown will shift in retail’s favor anytime soon, either. The circumstances regarding COVID-19 in the Prairie State seem to only be getting worse.

Mobile registration likely in place for a while

Based on how COVID-19 numbers are trending in Illinois, it’s hard to imagine Gov. JB Pritzker will reinstate the in-person registration mandate any time soon.

While Pritzker has yet to announce any new statewide restrictions that might affect casinos, off-track betting sites, racetracks and video lottery rooms in IL, that may be coming if statewide numbers don’t improve. As Pritzker shared in his press briefing on Thursday, some of the numbers are worse than the state saw in February and March before the first shutdown.

If that happens, online sports betting in IL should continue to grow as long as there are sporting events to wager on. The market for legal sports betting in IL appears to be worth every penny that proponents expected.

Derek Helling also contributed to this report.  

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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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