Illinois Breaks $1 Billion Barrier For Sports Betting Handle

Written By J.R. Duren on December 12, 2022
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Welcome to the big leagues, Illinois sports betting.

In October, the Prairie State became just the fourth market in the country to surpass $1 billion in bets placed (handle) in a single month, joining Nevada, New Jersey, and New York. Nine retail sportsbooks and eight mobile sportsbooks generated record-breaking numbers in October 2022.

The state’s retail and online sportsbooks produced $1.03 billion in handle. Illinois nearly hit the $1 billion mark back in March, when it tallied $971 million in handle.

Online Illinois sports betting generates impressive handle

Mobile sports betting is the dominant handle and revenue producer in markets across the country. Bettors love the convenience of placing bets on their devices instead of driving to a sportsbook to wager.

Illinois is no different. Mobile sports betting accounted for more than 95% of the total handle for the month, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

In total, bettors in Illinois wagered more than $987 million on their devices. Here’s that total broken down by sport:

  • Professional sports: $871.48 million
  • College sports: $116.89 million
  • Motorsports: $903,852

no Queen East St. Louis (DraftKings), Fairmount Park (FanDuel), and Rivers Des Plaines (BetRivers) led the way in handle in October. These numbers are in line with national trends in which FanDuel and DraftKings tend to account for the majority of states’ betting action.

Physical sportsbooks help push numbers past $1 billion

Though Illinois mobile sportsbooks dominate the state’s revenue numbers, retail locations (in-person sportsbooks) pitched in just enough in October to get the total handle over $1 billion. The state’s nine brick-and-mortar books generated just over $40 million in handle:

  • Professional sports: $34.02 million
  • College sports: $6.23 million
  • Motorsports: $23,627

College sports accounted for around 15% of October’s retail handle, while it made up about 12% of handle for mobile wagers.

Big month for professional sports drives action

Month-on-month, the Illinois sports betting market saw an increase of more than 20% in handle, up from $831 million in September.

It’s no surprise that Illinois’ handle surged past $1 billion for the first time in history in October. The month is a sports bettor’s dream:

  • The MLB season featured the World Series
  • The NBA started its regular season
  • The NHL kicked off its season
  • College football and the NFL were in full swing

The stars were aligned in October and the state’s sportsbooks took full advantage of it. Add to that environment the fact that Chicago has some of the most devoted fans in the nation and it’s easy to see why Illinois vaulted itself past the $1 billion mark.

Will Illinois’ hot streak continue?

Looking to the winter, it’s likely that Illinois total handle may dip below $1 billion. In 2021, handle jumped considerably from September to October, then stumbled in November and December. The same held true in other big markets like New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

That being said, the general trend is that handle bounces back in January, dips in February, then surges again in March thanks to the NCAA Tournament.

So, the most likely scenario based on past numbers is that Illinois handle may dip into the high $900 million range in November and December, hit $1 billion in January, drop to the low $900 million range in February, then climb past $1 billion again in March.

Photo by Playin USA

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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