Illinois sportsbooks finished 2021 strongly, falling just short of setting new records with nearly $40m revenue on nearly $800m in wagering in December, according to PlayIllinois, which tracks the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market.
The third straight month of $780m or more in betting contributed towards a great year for the Prairie State, positioning it as the US’ third-largest sports betting market with nearly $7bn in wagers.
Joe Boozell, the lead analyst for PlayIllinois.com, commented: “Sportsbooks have operated at a blistering pace over the last three months, and it certainly helps going forward that the Bulls are a hot ticket.
“As relentless as the growth has been, though, it’s important to remember that Illinois is far from a mature market. Many of the restraints will go away early this year, which puts the industry in a great position.”
According to official data, Illinois’ sportsbooks took $789.6m in December wagers, up 60.6% year-over-year (December 2020: $491.7m) and the second-most in state history. Online betting accounted for $752.9m (95.3%) of all wagers.
The month’s wagers continued a busy period for the state after November saw $779.8m in bets while October saw a record $840.4m. Betting volume over the 31 days in December averaged $25.5m per day, down from November’s $26.0m per day.
Bettors were much more successful in December, as gross gaming revenue declined to a more standard $36.7m, down 53.1% from November’s record $78.2m. However, the month’s revenue was still up 29.3% YoY (December 2020: $28.4m), with $33.7m in taxable revenue, yielding $5.4m in state and local taxes.
Despite in-person registration requirements returning to the state, December topped off a year of significant growth for Illinois sportsbooks.
In 2021, they produced: $7.02bn in wagers, a 273% increase YoY (2020: $1.9bn) with only New Jersey ($10.9bn) and Nevada ($7.1bn) recording more; $6.7bn in online wagers (2020: $1.8bn); $534.1m in gross revenue (2020: $137.4m); and $84.7m in state and local taxes (2020: $20.2m).
Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIllinois.com, added: “Even with regulatory restraints like in-person registration placed on Illinois operators, the state’s sportsbooks still managed to triple betting volume year over year.
“With in-person registration and other regulations set to go away in March, Illinois could conceivably surpass both Nevada and New Jersey in the year ahead. The future of sports betting in the state is awfully bright.”
Football produced $265.7m in December wagers (November $257.1m) despite the struggles of the Chicago Bears. Meanwhile, the Bulls’ success helped basketball betting improve slightly to $226.4m (November $226.3m).
In terms of operators, DraftKings/Casino Queen led the way with $295m in combined handle ($290.4m online), producing $7.5m in gross revenue. FanDuel followed with $232.2m in wagers ($230.6m online), up from November’s $216.2m, yielding a state-best $13.9m in gross revenue.
Illinois regulators also recently approved a seventh online sportsbook to operate in the state in BetMGM.
Boozell concluded: “The relative lack of competition among online sportsbooks has been a boon for DraftKings and FanDuel, but has held the overall maturity of the market back. Another well-known brand like BetMGM, combined with the regulation changes, should help the market take another leap ahead.”