Illinois Sets All-Time Betting Record For March, The Last Month Of Online Registration

Written By Joe Boozell on May 10, 2021 - Last Updated on June 23, 2021
illinois sports betting march 2021

Illinois recorded a $633.6 million sports betting handle in March, setting an all-time record, according to the Illinois Gaming Board report released Monday.

The high-water mark could be the last for the foreseeable future. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker brought back the in-person registration requirement in early April, and the next several months are typically slower betting months.

The IL sports betting handle figure shot up by $123.8 million from February when the state took in $509.8 million in wagers. The Land of Lincoln once again finished in front of Pennsylvania, which recorded a March handle of $560.3 million.

Illinois sportsbooks profited $49.9 million in March, also setting an all-time mark. That was good for a 7.9% hold.

The state added $6.6 million in tax revenue to its coffers.

March Madness betting is likely responsible for the increase, as other states saw their sports wagering handle rise in March as well. We know that Illinoisans bet around $200 million on the NCAA Tournament alone.

But Illinois also had a new high-profile player join the market.

Barstool Illinois finishes 5th in handle

Barstool Sportsbook launched in Illinois on March 11, and it posted $48.9 million in handle.

That was fifth among six online sportsbooks. It finished behind DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers and PointsBet and in front of William Hill.

Here are the full March revenue splits by sportsbook:

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$207,621,175$203,880,264$3,740,911$14,677,143$1,900,432$131,705
Fairmount ParkFanDuel$195,190,768$194,869,605$321,163$14,481,253$1,912,253$153,828
Hollywood AuroraBarstool$48,873,737$47,790,297$1,083,440$6,273,753$803,361$63,937
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill$14,166,187$13,268,449$897,738-$270,456$15,719$2,197
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,239,397$0$1,239,397$127,344$16,700$0

Keep in mind that Barstool was only live for two-thirds of the month, so it likely would have finished ahead of PointsBet over a full 31 days. Barstool also edged PointsBet in revenue.

The problem? Pritzker ousted online registration shortly thereafter, and Barstool only had a few weeks to sign up users online.

It would have been interesting to see if Barstool could have kept gaining ground in April, May and beyond. Now, the sportsbook will likely settle into fourth place on a monthly basis, barring a legislative fix.

And once again, DraftKings Sportsbook led all IL books in handle. And for the first time in a few months, it also led in revenue.

BetRivers is a distant third to those two at this point. But with in-person registration back in place, BetRivers has a chance to close that gap in the coming months.

No in-state college betting madness

While the $633.6 million mark is impressive, it could have been even higher if Illinoisans could have bet on their teams in March Madness.

Illinois and Loyola-Chicago both made the NCAA Tournament and even faced each other in the Round of 32.

Of course, it’s illegal to bet on in-state college teams in the Land of Lincoln. That was never more apparent — and frustrating — to Illinois bettors than it was in March.

A DraftKings spokesperson told PlayIllinois during the tournament that Illinois vs. Loyola-Chicago drew its second-largest handle of all Sunday Round of 32 games, and that was without any bets from Illinois.

Hopefully, by next year’s March Madness, the in-state college ban will be removed. Legislators brought up the topic at a recent House Executive Committee meeting.

Though, of course, in-person registration is the more pressing issue. And that may be with us for quite a while.

Photo by Paul Sancya / 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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