Illinois, Like Most States, Sees February Sports Betting Handle Sharply Decrease

Written By Joe Boozell on April 9, 2021

Illinois posted $509.8 million in February sports betting handle, a sizable dip from its record January mark of $581.6 million.

That was consistent with trends across the US, as most sports betting states saw a drop in February handle. Illinois even inched passed Pennsylvania for the first time, which posted $509.5 million in handle.

The news comes on the heels of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s decision to end mobile sports betting registration in early April. Obviously, that’s not baked into the February numbers.

But it likely means that March will be the high-water mark for Illinois sports betting, as handle numbers should remain flat or drop from there.

Back to February, though: Sportsbooks profited $35.4 million, good for a 6.9% hold. The state raked in $5.31 million in tax revenue.

Why did Illinois handle numbers fall in February?

As previously mentioned, Illinois wasn’t the only state to experience a handle decrease in February.

One reason? There are only 28 days in February. Illinois’ per day betting numbers were only slightly down from January.

Beyond that, there simply wasn’t as much to bet on in comparison to January.

In January, we had the College Football Playoff and full NFL Playoffs. While the Super Bowl is a huge betting event, it’s only one game, while there were multiple huge betting games the month prior.

Also, both the College Football Playoff semifinals and finals took place in January; there was no college football in February.

According to the Illinois Gaming Board‘s report, Illinoisans bet $45.6 million on this year’s Super Bowl.

Illinois February sports betting revenue, by operator

Once again, DraftKings led all operators in handle, with FanDuel a close second. But FanDuel led in revenue.

And for yet another month, the gap between BetRivers and those two grew larger. Take a look at the full splits:

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$199,750,804$196,538,802$3,212,002$8,653,548$1,630,884$97,292
Hawthorne Race CoursePointsBet$40,298,398$39,51,214$788,184$3,574,480$601,509$206,201
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill$10,058,721$8,825,399$1,233,322$678,796$112,989$1,306
Hollywood JolietN/A$849,853$0$849,853$199,654$28,921$0
Hollywood AuroraN/A$818,332$0$818,184$7,158$116$0

Of course, a return to in-person registration should help BetRivers and hurt DraftKings and FanDuel.

That’s because BetRivers has an easily accessible registration hub in Rivers Casino, which is in Des Plaines. Des Plaines is less than a 30-minute drive from Chicago.

DraftKings and FanDuel, meanwhile, are partnered with brick-and-mortar facilities that are downstate.

PointsBet also benefits from in-person registration due to multiple brick-and-mortar locations. It has three retail sportsbooks in the Chicagoland area, and should soon add a fourth.

PointsBet was fourth once again in February handle, but it could make up some ground against competitors in April and beyond.

Zooming out: Where does the Illinois sports betting market go from here?

The drop in February handle was expected, and the number should rebound in March.

Between March Madness and the launch of Barstool Sportsbook, IL could crack $600 million in handle for the first time.

After that, Illinois probably won’t sniff $600 million for a while.

In-person registration will likely stunt any growth in the Illinois market. Users will sign up at a much, much slower pace, and a certain percentage of existing bettors will eventually stop (or wait until football season to start betting again).

Illinois was the No. 3 sports betting state in February by handle, trailing only New Jersey and New Jersey.

But pending a legislative fix, it will likely slip behind Pennsylvania once again. From there, the ceiling is likely fourth place.

Photo by Jason Behnken / 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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