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US – Illinois sportsbooks sprint to $300m milestone

By - 17 November 2020

Illinois is off to the fastest start in the history of US legal sports betting with its sportsbooks generating $305.2m in bets in September, making the Prairie State the fourth state to surpass $300m in sports bets in a single month and the first to reach the milestone so quickly after launching.

“Illinois’ launch in July came just as U.S. major sports returned to action, and that may have helped hypercharge the market,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst at PlayIllinois.com. “Pent-up demand is expected to fuel a new market, but Illinois has been able to capitalise on the additional demand that has been unleashed after sports were shut down this spring. It’s been a perfect storm for sportsbook operators.”

Buoyed by an unprecedented schedule of U.S. major sports in September, a bevy of operator launches, and a continuation of remote registration, Illinois established its place as the fourth-largest sports betting market in the United States.

Joining Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as the only states with a handle of more than $300m in any one month, Illinois reached the mark in just its third month after launch.

By comparison New Jersey surpassed $300m for the first time in its sixth month after launch, and fourth month after launching online betting, when it tallied $330.7m in November 2018. Pennsylvania hit $300m in its 13th month after launch, and sixth month after launching online betting, when it tallied $316.5m in November 2019. Illinois’ September handle also easily topped neighbour Indiana’s $207.5m. Pennsylvania, the nation’s third-largest market and the most populous state with full-scale online sports betting, collected $462.8m in September. The Keystone State and its 12.8m people offers a strong comparison with Illinois, with its population of about 12.7m.

“Pennsylvania gives Illinois a nice barometer for how the market is doing, and so far, Illinois is off to a much faster start,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIllinois.com. “The ingredients for Illinois’ rapid expansion have been pretty simple so far: It is a huge market launching under unique circumstances. As long as remote registration continues there will be no single legal market more attractive for operators.”

September’s bets yielded $6.8m in adjusted gross revenue statewide, down from $7.2m in August, resulting in a $1.1m into state coffers. Boosted by the continuation of remote registration – which has been extended through 12 December – online bets accounted for 97 per cent, or $283.1m, of September’s handle.

BetRivers/Rivers Casino, which has dominated the market so far, led with $112.7m in overall handle, including $98.6m online. DraftKings/Casino Queen Hotel gained ground with $98.3m in bets, including $95.9m online. FanDuel/Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino collected $78.6m in bets, including $78.4m online.

“DraftKings and FanDuel will continue to put pressure on BetRivers, which has really taken advantage of its early start in the market,” Welman said. “That should be an interesting race to watch over the next few months. The bottom line, though, is that the more top-flight operators that launch, the healthier and more mature the market will become.”

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