Illinois’ sportsbooks started 2022 with a bang, posting a record monthly handle of almost $870m for January thanks to a packed sporting calendar.
With an extended NFL regular season and expanded play-offs played over five weekends, Illinois players had ample opportunity to place sports bets, kicking off a year that ‘should bring a significant leap forward with the removal of in-person registration requirements’, according to PlayIllinois.com, which tracks the gambling market in the Prairie State.
“The momentum of the last four months will serve sportsbooks well as the removal of the in-person registration requirement on March 5 moved Illinois sports betting into a new era,” said Joe Boozell, lead analyst for PlayIllinois.com.
“Sports betting has continued to gain popularity in the state, and with the reins lifted, Illinois could very well grow into the second-largest market in the US this year.”
In January, Illinois sportsbooks took $867.5m in online and retail wagers, topping the previous record of $840.4m in wagers accepted in October 2021.
This represents a 9.9% increase from December’s total and a 49.2% rise in handle year-over-year. Betting volume jumped to $28m per day over the 31 days in January from $25.5m in December and $18.8m per day in January 2021.
From those wagers, sportsbooks won $59.3m in gross revenue, a 61.2% increase from $36.7m in December and up 20.2% from $49.4m in the same period last year. This produced $10.7m in taxes from the state coffers.
The main driver for the record monthly handle was the increased NFL calendar, with five weekends bringing football action in January, producing $224.1m in bets. The NBA also helped with the total, generating $276.2m in wagers.
“The NFL did sportsbooks a massive favor by expanding its regular season and playoff schedule,” added Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIllinois.com. “The fact that those additional games were all squeezed into one month helped produce some eye-popping numbers in Illinois and beyond.”
Breaking down the handle per sportsbook, DraftKings led the way, taking in $293.2m in combined online and retail handle, generating $17.2m in gross revenue.
Not far behind was FanDuel, which took $261.2m in wagers, producing a state-high of $23m in gross revenue.
“The first two years of sports betting in Illinois have been a rocky road, making it one of the more unusual markets in the US,” Boozell concluded. “Despite that, the top sportsbooks have thrived. Ideally, the changes will help expand the market and foster a more competitive and healthy market.”