Illinois has posted a sports betting handle of nearly $305 million for September, making it the fourth-largest betting state in the US. The top three sports betting leaders in the country are New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.

According to the report released by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) on Friday, Illinois’ betting handle of $305.2 million put the total wagered in the country during September at more than $2.8 billion. September’s handle in Illinois more than doubles August’s total handle of $139.6 million. These numbers set a high bar for sports betting across the other states. While many states have already released their October’s sports betting handle reports, Illinois is the last state to release September numbers.

Both New Jersey and Indiana have already set new records this October, as they did in September. The industry analysts expect Illinois to follow suit.

Sports betting activity in the state returned to normality in August, which was the first month of reporting by the IGB. The previous months had been eclipsed by the pandemic-led shutdowns. However, the IGB’s initial release covered March, June, and July and reported a combined $61.7 million in wagers during this time.

Online Betting Dominated Illinois Market

Online sports gambling not only defined the Illinois sports betting market but also dominated it completely. Of the $305 million wagered in September, around $283 million (or 92.7%) came from online bets. Almost all these bets were placed through three sportsbooks: DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers.

BetRivers pioneered Illinois’ sports betting market when it opened its retail sportsbook in March this year and launched an online sportsbook in June. Until August 19, BetRivers was the exclusive mobile operator in the Land of Lincoln when DraftKings appeared on the landscape. FanDuel joined the party nine days later, and William Hill launched its online sportsbook on September 15.

While hundreds of millions were accepted as bets, only a small portion actually made its way onto the sportsbooks’ revenue sheets. All eight of Illinois’ retail and online sportsbooks reported adjusted gross revenues of $6.8 million. The state share in terms of taxes was a little more than $1 million. Understandably, the scant revenue figures are a product of welcome bonuses operators offer to customers for registering accounts or making deposits or in terms of special promotions.

Online Sportsbooks’ Accidental Boost

Considering the overwhelming success of online sportsbooks in the state, it is easy to ignore that internet wagering was not initially supposed to enjoy this kind of dominance. Mobile sports betting in the state is currently allowed under Executive Order 2020-41, issued in June, which suspended the in-person registration requirement.

When Illinois lawmakers regulated sports betting, the residents were required to undergo in-person registration for mobile accounts. It means that if an individual wants to use an online sportsbook, he or she must have to go physically to the casino. However, the unprecedented situation thanks to the COVID-19, Governor J.B. Pritzker waived the in-person requirement in June for a month. Then in August, he renewed the waiver. This executive directive enabled the residents across the state to sign up online while staying at home.

Most recently, the governor renewed the order for a fifth time, extending the waiver through December 12. All ten retail casinos in Illinois are currently operating under advanced safety measures, which complicate the in-person registration process

It is yet to be seen if state lawmakers will consider making the registration waiver permanent through legislation or will it be left to the governor to assess each month before renewing extension amid confused and tantalized bettors.

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