Illinois Sports Betting Surpasses $1 Billion In September

Written By T.J. McBride on November 28, 2023
Photo of Chicago Bears running back Roschon Johnson on a story on how professional football spurred sports betting in Illinois in September.

Illinois saw an expected leap in sports betting wagers in September thanks to the start of football season.

Around $1.1 billion was wagered in September, a 66% increase over August’s $664.2 million. It was not only a month over month improvement either. Year over year, September’s handle was 22.9% higher than the $831.8 million wagered in September 2022.

In total, 28.2 million wagers were placed in September.

Overwhelming majority of bets made on pro sports

There are eight Illinois online sports betting operators taking wagers in The Prairie State. That number is expected to rise by three in the coming months.

Illinois reports its sports betting statistics in a unique way. First, all bets are separated into two tiers. Tier 1 includes betting on a single event or game. Tier 2 includes all other types of wagers, such as future bets and parlays. From there, it is further split up into professional sports, college sports and motor sports.

Professional sports led the way in both retail and online wagers in September, with a total of $900.1 million. Of that total, $369.9 million came from Tier 1 wagers, while the remaining $530.1 million were Tier 2 bets.

College sports came in second for combined bets with $177.7 million of wagers. Nearly $80 million came from Tier 1 wagers, while the remaining $98.2 million came from Tier 2 bets.

Lastly came motor sports, with $670,451 of total wagers. Around $291,377 came in the form of Tier 1 bets, while $379,074 were Tier 2 bets.

Return of football welcomed by sportsbooks

The total number of wagers in August was just under 17 million. That number increased 60.1% in September. There was no greater improvement than in the total number of bets placed on football games.

In September, 6.6 million wagers were placed on football between both retail and online settings. That is more than 10 times as many wagers on football compared to the month prior. In August, just 640,585 wagers were placed on football. There was also a YoY improvement of 20%, from 5.2 million football bets in September 2022 to 6.6 million in September this year.

The increase of football wagers does not tell the whole story, though. Parlay bets also dramatically increased, likely due to many football legs on bets. In August, there were 9.5 million parlay bets. That number increased by 67% in September to 15.9 million.

DraftKings led the way in online sports betting for September

DraftKings Illinois, through Casino Queen, took the most mobile sports wagers in Illinois for the month of September.

DraftKings brought in $402.9 million of online wagers in September. Bets on professional sports made up $336.1 million of that total. College sports added in another $66.5 million, while motor sports accumulated the last $270,000.

Fairmont Park, which uses FanDuel Illinois’ mobile sportsbook, came in second place overall with a total online handle of $354.1 million. Bets on pro sports led FanDuel to its second-place finish with $311.7 million wagered. College sports contributed another $42.2 million in handle, while the last $136,714 came from mobile wagers on motor sports.

In a distant third place came Midwest Gaming and Entertainment, which is also known as Rivers Casino and BetRivers Sportsbook. BetRivers saw $83.9 million of sports wagers in September, with the bulk coming from pro sports. Around $67.4 million of handle came from pro sports, $16.1 million came from college sports and the final $55,000 came from motor sports.

Here are the five most popular online sportsbooks in Illinois for September ranked by total handle:

  1. Casino Queen: $402.9 million
  2. Fairmont Park: $354.1 million
  3. Midwest Gaming and Entertainment: $83.9 million
  4. Elgin Riverboat Resort: $66 million
  5. Par-A-Dice Gaming: $53.6 million

Rivers Casino leads the pack for in-person sports wagering

For in-person sport wagers in September, it was Midwest Gaming and Entertainment that took the lead through its operation of Rivers Casino and BetRivers Sportsbook.

Rivers Casino took $13.3 million bets in person in September alone. Of that total, $10.5 million came from professional sports, $2.7 million came from college sports and the last $4,695 was from motor sports.

The silver medal for September goes to Casino Queen with $7 million of in-person sports wagers. Professional sports accounted for $6.1 million of the total. College sports represented $901,141 of the total, while the remaining $9,667 came from motor sports.

Rounding out the top three was Hollywood Casino Aurora with $3.2 million of retail sports wagers. That total was reached thanks to $1.8 million of pro sports bets, $1.4 million of collegiate sports wagers and a tiny $240 bet on motor sports.

Here’s how the top-five operators for retail sports betting shook out in September:

  1. Midwest Gaming and Entertainment: $13.3 million
  2. Casino Queen: $7 million
  3. Hollywood Casino Aurora: $3.2 million
  4. Alton Casino: $3 million
  5. Hawthorne Race Course: $2.5 million
Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Associated Press
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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He covers the gaming landscape across multiple states in addition to his main beat covering the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His NBA work can be found at several major media outlets including ESPN, FiveThirtyEight and Bleacher Report.

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