Illinois Leads US In Year-Over-Year Sports Betting Growth On NFL

Written By Dave Briggs on September 13, 2022

Sports betting in Illinois on the NFL’s opening week was up 60% compared to Week 1 of the 2021 season. And Illinois made the highest year-over-year jump of any state in the nation.

That’s according to the volume of sports betting in IL recorded by GeoComply from last Thursday through Sunday night. The company provides geolocation and anti-fraud services to Illinois’ seven legal, regulated sportsbook operators.

The volume of sports betting activity recorded by GeoComply in Illinois reached some 8 million this past weekend. That’s up from a volume of 5 million during last year’s first weekend of Illinois NFL betting.

Illinois leads the nation in sports betting growth

By volume, Illinois ranked fifth in the nation for NFL betting for the weekend’s games behind New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan. But compared to all those states except New York — which didn’t have legalized sports betting in 2021 — Illinois made the greatest gains in one year’s time.

The ranking of year-over-year increases in sports betting volume is as follows:

  1. Illinois – up 60% from 5 million to 8 million.
  2. Pennsylvania – up 30% from 11.8 million to 15.3 million.
  3. Michigan – up 26% from 12.6 million to 13.6 million.
  4. New Jersey – up 7% from 7.7 million top 9.7 million

All told, GeoComply saw sports betting growth of 71.5% across all legal, regulated sports betting markets in the United States on NFL opening weekend compared to 2021. The company recorded total volume of 103.1 million compared to 60.1 million in 2021.

“Clearly (it is) an unbelievable start to the NFL season,” said Anna Sainsbury, GeoComply’s chief executive officer, in a release. “The growth of legal betting suggests that Americans are ditching offshore sportsbooks for regulated options in their home states. This is exactly the outcome legislators and regulators looked to achieve through legalization as they now protect consumers and increase tax revenues.”

Gains in Illinois a result of easier sign-up process

The year-over-year growth in Illinois is tied most to legislation allowing residents to sign-up for sportsbooks online. That legislation was passed in 2021 and came into effect on March 5 of this year.

Prior to that, signing up for online Illinois sportsbooks meant driving to a physical casino to complete the registration process. That extra step, required a three-hour drive for certain apps.

Allowing online registration had an immediate positive impact on sports betting revenue in the Land of Lincoln.

Through June, Illinois ranked second in sports betting revenue behind only New York. Through the first six months of 2022, revenue from sports betting in Illinois was $344. New York was tops with $608 million in revenue in that same period.

IL sports betting handle ranked third in the nation in 2022 behind only New York and New Jersey. Illinois sports gamblers wagered over $4.75 billion through the first six months of this year. That compares with the total sports betting handle in New York of nearly $8.6 billion and almost $5.8 billion bet in New Jersey in 2022, respectively.

Chicago Bears victory could lead to more gains for Illinois

Despite playing in a monsoon, and being 6.5-point underdogs at home, the Chicago Bears posted a 19-11 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. That’s sure to entice more fans to consider betting on the Bears in the weeks to come. And that could push sports betting revenue even further into the stratosphere in Illinois.

Also, Circa Sportsbook will become Illinois’ eighth legal, regulated sportsbook operator before the NFL season is over. Circa has a deal with Full House Resorts, which is expected to open a temporary casino in Waukegan, IL in December. When it does, Circa would go live, as well.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in North America with an emphasis on the casino, sports betting, horse racing and poker sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Illinois and Canada.

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