If you’re in Illinois, you will not be able to sign up for a sportsbook online to bet on the Super Bowl this year. Despite living in the state with the third-largest sports betting handle on a monthly basis in the US.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand why that is less than ideal. The Super Bowl is the most popular individual event on the sports betting calendar.
Therefore, it is also usually the biggest customer acquisition time of the year for sportsbooks. And that is underselling its significance.
Chris Grove, managing director of sports betting for gambling industry research firm Eilers & Krejcik, told the Chicago Tribune before last year’s Super Bowl:
“There’s really no other single event that compares to the Super Bowl, from a sportsbook perspective. Sportsbooks get more new customers in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, and on the day of the Super Bowl itself, than for any other events across the rest of the calendar.”
Illinois has had in-person registration since April 2021. That will end by March 5 at the latest, which will be in time for March Madness betting.
Still, not having online registration for the Super Bowl is tough on several levels.
IL sportsbooks will miss out on adding tons of new customers; the state will miss out on lots of tax revenue, and there will be a lot of confused casual Super Bowl watchers who don’t understand why they can’t simply download and use a sportsbook app like they would any other app.
Illinois remains Illinois-ing.
How Illinoisans bet last year’s Super Bowl
Last year, Illinois had online sportsbook registration during the Super Bowl.
And residents certainly took advantage. IL recorded a $45.6 million handle for the Super Bowl, resulting in $7.7 million in operator profits and $1.1 million in tax revenue.
The latter two figures are higher than expected based on the handle. It was a good day for sportsbooks; the public was all over the Chiefs, who lost to the Buccaneers.
The funny part? Even sans online registration, Illinois should blow the handle figure out of the water in 2022.
For starters, one would expect there not to be app outages this year like there were in 2021 (well, fingers crossed!) But also, Illinois sports betting numbers are skyrocketing when you look at year-over-year numbers.
Take October 2021 versus October 2020, for instance. The monthly handle grew by more than $400 million in the span of a year. In-person registration may be a nuisance, but Illinoisans took advantage of the online sign-up period in 2020 and early 2021.
It also goes to show just how much this market will be capable of once online registration returns.
At least we have March Madness
While the Super Bowl is a pivotal sports betting event, March Madness is also a monster. And Illinois will have online registration by then.
Last year, the Land of Lincoln recorded more than $200 million worth of March Madness wagers. Combine the popularity of the tournament with the sheer amount of games, and you’ll see some massive sports betting numbers.
On Thursday, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) approved BetMGM for a sports betting license. BetMGM should go live by March 5, and it’s possible that more sportsbooks will follow.
But everyone benefits from no more in-person registration. Existing sportsbooks haven’t been able to sign up users remotely since COVID-19 vaccines became widely available. Barstool Sportsbook only had three weeks to register people online.
Casinos will likely register lots of people in person on Super Bowl Sunday — but still, it will pale in comparison to what could have been with online capability.
Luckily for Illinois, it is a big state with a ton of sports fans. Policy blunders aside, the state is proving that trumps just about all else when determining whether a sports betting market will be successful.