Illinois Sports Betting Posts Record $633.6M in March Handle

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Illinois sports betting finally topped the $600 million handle mark, thanks to March Madness, an additional sportsbook, and mobile registration. The Prairie State is the last one to report its monthly figures that have catapulted the US total sports betting handle for March over $4.6 billion.

According to figures released Monday by the Illinois Gaming Board, March handle totaled $633.6 million, improving the previous handle record of $581.5 million reported in January. March handle also represented a 24.3% increase from February’s $509.8 million.

Illinois joined New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Indiana as the only legal states to cross $3 billion in handle in the post-PASPA era.

Illinois, the Second-Largest Market Revenue-Wise

March handle also put the Prairie State No. 3 nationally behind New Jersey, and Nevada. But the revenue-wise, Illinois was No. 2 nationally for the month.

Operators hit $44.3 million in adjusted gross revenue, resulting in a 7% hold. The revenue was up 25.2% from February’s $35.4 million.

That allowed the state to draw $6.6 million in taxes, according to the IGB report. In addition, the Cook County amassed $493,543 through its 2% tax on almost $24.7 million in AGR from bets placed in the county. In total, the sports betting tax was $7.2 million, an increase of 22.3% month-over-month.

Basketball Stole the Show

Basketball handle drew $365.7 million in March bets, and roughly half of that was wagered on March Madness alone. According to the IGB official Marcus Fruchter, nearly $176.8 million was bet on the NCAA Tournament with $14.6 million in revenue. He revealed the number at a meeting last month.

Those figures missed an undisclosed operator, which means the final total is higher than $176.8 million. However, the final numbers did not include the updated total.

No other sport reached the $100 million handle mark in March.

Tennis drew $47.2 million, hockey brought in $32.8 million, soccer ($29.1 million), and golf with a $10.5 million handle managed to stay among the top five.

Parlays accounted for nearly $122 million in wagers.

DraftKings Sees Drop Amid Barstool’s Entry

Almost 96.1% of the total sports bets were placed digitally, accounting for $609 million in handle in March. But Barstool Sportsbook, which became the sixth mobile operator in Illinois following the launch on March 11, and three other sportsbooks gained at the expense of DraftKings’ handle share.

The Boston-based DraftKings’s handle fell from February’s $243.5 million (or 42.3% of all online handle) to $203.9 million in March (or 33.5% of all online handle).

BetRivers also reported a loss in the month-over-month handle. The operator’s online handle of $109 million in February dipped to $95.7 million handle in March, shrinking its online handle share from 19% in February to 15% in March.

FanDuel saw some improvement in its digital handle share to 32% from 30.1% as the New York-based operator reported $194.9 million of handle in March.

The other operators, Australia-based PointsBet and Caesars-owned William Hill had mobile handle shares of 8.8% and 2.2%, respectively.

Barstool Sportsbook finished fifth in online handle ($46.9 million), but its 10.96% hold translated into more than $5.1 million in revenue, allowing it to place fourth ahead of PointsBet in revenue.

Though the overall market was dominated by online operators, retail sports betting also improved a bit. The retail sports betting reported a $24.6 million handle, up 25.4% from February’s $19.6 million.

Will Illinois Sports Betting Continue its Record Performance?

Illinois sports betting was the third-largest market for February and March owing to its handle. In fact, the March handle difference between Illinois and Nevada is just $7.2 million. Also, Illinois’s handle more than doubled Indiana’s handle of $316.7 million for the same period.

All the signs showed Illinois is on the path to replace the Silver State as the second-largest sports betting market in the nation after New Jersey. But the state had only one barrier which may hinder its sports betting market: in-person registration requirement.

From June 2020 to March 2021, Illinois sports betting flourished unprecedently, thanks to Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive order that allowed remote registration provisionally amid the pandemic.

March was the last full month of remote registration in the state as Pritzker did not renew the order, reinstating the in-person registration requirement at the beginning of April. It essentially means every new bettor will have to go to a physical casino to make a sportsbook account. The industry analysts believe this could impede the growth of the market in the coming months.

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