Illinois Sees $286.2M in March Madness Handle

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Illinois residents wagered $286.2 million in March Madness betting on the men’s and women’s tournaments this year.

According to the new numbers released Tuesday by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), March Madness saw a huge jump (62%) from last year, when the NCAA Tournament saw nearly $$177 million in total handle.

The Prairie State ended the controversial in-person registration on March 5, paving the way for record numbers for the state.

Another significant development in March was the launch of BetMGM on March 5. The digital arm of MGM Resorts was the seventh mobile operator in Illinois that launched sports betting in June 2020. BetRivers had accepted the first legal sports bet.

The Prairie State had legalized online and retail sports betting in 2019, with a mandatory in-person requirement for those who wanted to place digital bets.

Illinois’ March Madness Breakdown

  • With a $278.4 million handle, the men’s tournament accounted for over 97% of the total handle.
  • Of the $286 million total handle, nearly 96% was wagered online.
  • March Madness churned out $14.2 million in operator’s revenue for a 5% hold, a relatively low figure, which means the bettors fared well. Previously, hold percentages have been around 10%.

The IGB also revealed the proportion wagered on pregame vs. live bets, providing a deeper insight into the behavior of Illinois sports bettors. Nearly 33% of the handle came from live bets, compared to 67% from pregame wagering.

It was legal to wager on Illinois college teams in-person for the first time this year. However, the fact that the IL schools couldn’t make it out of the first weekend could not become an additional factor.

Revenue Numbers by Sportsbooks

DraftKings led the Illinois March Madness sports betting handle at $105.2 million, followed by $73.8 million. Here are the numbers for each mobile operator.

  • DraftKings: $105.2 million ($1.78 million revenue)
  • FanDuel: $73.8 million ($3.1 million)
  • PointsBet: $27.8 million ($5.
  • BetRivers: $24.7 million ($2 million)
  • Barstool: $23.4 million (-$6,759)
  • BetMGM: $13.4 million ($723,979)
  • Caesars: $12 million ($701,110)

PointsBet Ousted BetRivers for Third Spot

The most important highlight is that though PointsBet was a distant third in men’s tournament handle, it deposed BetRivers as the third top operator this year. The Australian-based operator held nearly 20% of the total mobile betting on what is believed to be the biggest sporting event in the US.

The equation for the top two operators – DraftKings and FanDuel – remained unchanged year-over-year. But the top third – BetRivers – in 2021 was ousted by PointsBet this year.

In March 2021, DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers combined for more than 81% of the total mobile handle.

This year’s top three – DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet – totaled 73% of the overall mobile action.

Despite launching just nine days before March Madness, BetMGM took in $12.7 million, good enough to surpass Caesar ($10.8 million), which launched its new platform shortly after BetMGM went live on March 5.

Retail betting on the men’s tournament totaled nearly $11.6 million among eight retail locations, with Rivers Casino topping all land-based sportsbooks in handle with a little over $3 million.

What Does Illinois March Madness Betting Reflect?

The record March Madness handle was consistent with the initial expectations.

The sports betting gurus have predicted Illinois sports betting handle at $900 million for the month of March. The full numbers for Prairie State’s sports betting market will be released in May.

New York recently unveiled its March figures, reporting $1.6 billion in total handle.

Illinois sports betting numbers suggest that the state could grab the no. 2 spot by the NFL. However, Prairie State will have to vie with New Jersey and Nevada for the covetous spot.

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