Sportsbooks in Illinois only achieved a handle of less than $700m in February, the state’s lowest monthly handle since September, most likely due to a post-Super Bowl lull, according to PlayIllinois.
However, with the removal of in-person registration requirements in the Prairie State, wagering is expected to bounce back in March, especially with the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament providing bettors with more wagering opportunities.
According to official data, bettors in Illinois wagered $679.4m at the state’s online and retail sportsbooks in February, despite $60.5m in Super Bowl-related betting. Online betting accounted for $652.3m (96%) of all wagers during the month.
The month’s handle was up 33.3% year-over-year (February 2021: $509.7m) but down 21.7% on the previous month’s record of $867.5m.
Betting volume hit $24.3m per day over the 28 days of the month, up on last February’s $18.2m per day, but down from January’s $28m per day.
A post-Super Bowl lull was to be expected, as sportsbooks don’t have a full month of NFL games to bring in wagers, but figures should bounce back in March thanks to the removal of in-person registration requirements and NCAA March Madness.
“The Super Bowl can’t completely replace the volume of wagers from a full month of NFL football,” commented Joe Boozell, lead analyst for PlayIllinois.com.
“Importantly, though, sportsbooks continued to show strong year-over-year growth, and that momentum almost certainly accelerated in March, which brought lighter registration requirements and the NCAA Tournament.”
Sportsbooks won $35.6m in gross revenue in February, up 14.9% YoY (February 2021: $30.3m) but down 40% from the previous month (January: $59.3m), yielding $5.3m in state and local taxes.
Following the removal of in-person registration requirements in Illinois, March’s revenue is expected to provide a better insight into what sportsbooks can deliver for the remainder of the year.
Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIllinois.com, stated: “The biggest concern for sportsbooks was wiped away when baseball announced that it would play a full schedule.
“For the first time since Illinois launched sports betting amid the pandemic in 2020, sportsbooks can look forward to a normal sports schedule. Add in the change in registration requirements, and we’ll finally see the full potential of the market.”
Per operator, FanDuel and DraftKings remained inseparable for market share. FanDuel led all operators with $212.5m in wagers, including $211.3m online. DraftKings followed with $212.2m in handle, including $207.8m online.
Boozell added: “February was the end of the sports betting market’s first chapter. The biggest question ahead is whether Illinois can catch New Jersey and Nevada and establish itself as the clear second-largest sports betting market in the US, behind only New York. We believe that is a strong possibility.”