Illinois sportsbooks pick up the pace in October with $434.6m in wagers

Illinois sportsbooks found another gear during October, accelerating to more than $430m in bets during the month, reaching a level in only four full months that no other jurisdiction has reached in fewer than 16 months.

It has been a stunning start made possible by the removal of the state’s in-person registration requirement for online sportsbooks among other factors, according to analysts for PlayIllinois.

Sportsbooks drew $434.6m in bets in October, up 42.4% from $305.2m in September and the fourth largest handle among legal jurisdictions in the US, behind only New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.

By comparison, the nation’s largest sports betting market, New Jersey, did not surpass $430m in handle until its 16th month after launch. It took Pennsylvania even longer, reaching the mark with $462.8m in September 2020, 23 months after launch.

Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIllinois.com, stated: “Illinois is exploding at a pace we’ve never seen before, putting it on track to join the largest markets in the country by year’s end. This wouldn’t have been possible if lawmakers’ original intentions were met. If Gov JB Pritzker hadn’t suspended the in-person registration mandate, as was originally required, there is no way Illinois could have reached these heights so soon.”

Fellow analyst Joe Boozell added: “Illinois has long been an intriguing market, but nobody expected this kind of start. The market is still nowhere near maturity and yet it may still challenge Pennsylvania and Nevada in the coming months. We projected the market to one day take in $10bn in bets annually, and while that is still likely a few years away, it could come quicker than anyone dreamed, too.”

With a sports schedule that included a full month of NFL football, the World Series, the NBA Finals, and the return of Big Ten football, October’s bets yielded a huge $42.2m in adjusted gross revenue, up dramatically from $6.8m in September. Those gains resulted in $6.3m in state taxes.

Regional interest was a key contributor to October’s results. Football led all sports by attracting $186.7m in bets, up from $91.4m. That was bolstered by a 5-1 start to the season, in addition to hot starts by Northwestern and Notre Dame.

“In every regulated market, when local teams do well a corresponding uptick in betting is expected, so it’s not a surprise to see that in Illinois,” advised Welman. “That said, the weeks since October haven’t been as kind for the Bears. But that early interest has been baked in, so it shouldn’t get in the way of overall market growth.”

Online sports betting accounted for 94.3% of all bets in October, or $409.8m, and the three largest operators continue to dominate the market. DraftKings/Casino Queen led the market for the first time with $141.4m in overall handle, including $138.5m online. That is up from $98.3m overall and $95.9m online in September.

BetRivers/Rivers Casino continued to capitalize on its early launch with $115.5m overall and $101.5m online, up from $112.7m overall and $98.6m online in September. FanDuel/Par-A-Dice Casino made gains, too, with $105.6m overall and $105.2m online, up from $78.6m overall and $78.4m online.

“BetRivers has really done well in getting a head start on DraftKings and FanDuel, but holding off the two largest sportsbooks operators in the country is all but impossible,” Boozell said. “That said, with a bevy of new competitors set to launch in the coming months, the landscape should significantly change behind the state’s three biggest operators.”

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