Illinois sportsbooks gathered momentum in August with an 8.5% gain in betting volume from July, the first month-on-month gain in wagering since March. The wagering jump to more than $400m comes ahead of a crucial time of year for the industry, according to PlayIllinois, which tracks the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market.
Eric Ramsey, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIllinois.com, commented: “Interest in baseball, particularly the White Sox, coupled with the return of football in August set the stage for what will certainly be the busiest four-month stretch ever for Illinois’ legal sports betting industry.
“After summer, any gain is welcome. But the gains in August should pale in comparison to what we see with a full football schedule.”
In August, the Prairie State’s sportsbooks recorded $400.4m in bets, up 185.8% year-on-year (August 2020: $140.1m) and an 8.5% improvement on the previous month (July: $369.1m), according to official data released on Tuesday.
Per-day betting volume grew to $12.9m over the month, up from $4.5m per day in August 2020 and $11.9m per day in July.
Gross gaming revenue fell 12.3% to $32.7m in August (July: $37.3m), producing $26.8m in adjusted gross revenue. August’s profit yielded $4.3m in state and local taxes.
Baseball was the most popular sport wagered on in August, drawing $139.6m, up from July’s $124m. Tennis ($43.4m) and soccer ($30.8m) drew significant interest, too. With only a few college and NFL preseason games, in addition to futures betting, football attracted $17.2m.
August’s volume helped push Illinois to $4bn in wagers and $326.3m in GGR for the year. With football projected to draw more than $20bn in wagering across the country, the state could reach $6bn in wagers and $500m in GGR by year’s end.
Joe Boozell, lead analyst for PlayIllinois.com, stated: “There is little question that the final four months of the year will bring an onslaught of fresh records.
“The biggest unknown is how much will in-person registration and the ban on wagering on in-state college teams drag on betting volume. We know it will be a strong finish to the year for sportsbooks, but it won’t be as good for the industry as it could have been.”
August’s wagering included $380.2m in online bets, accounting for 95% of the state’s handle. DraftKings/Casino Queen topped Illinois again with $149.2m (July: $122.7m). It took a market-best $146.6m in online wagers, generating $11.3m in GGR, a notable gain from July’s $9.5m after it began offering profitable same-game parlays.
FanDuel was second with $111.5m in wagers, down from July’s $118.5m. $110.9m of its August wagers came online, resulting in $10.5m in GGR.
Boozell added: “The return of football brings in high betting volume, which is a motivator for every operator. But the value of football season for sportsbooks isn’t just in short-term profitability.
“Strong engagement offers sportsbooks an opportunity to grow their customer base by using aggressive promotions and other marketing strategies. And that can pay off even after the football season ends.”