Illinois Reports Sports Betting Handle Declined in May

Illinois sports betting handle declined by 5.6 percent from April to May
State still reported $506.3 million in wagers in May, which was the second-highest handle of any state in the US
Lawmakers hoping to approve an amendment that would legalize in-person wagering on in-state college teams

Illinois is one of the most populous states in the US with legalized sports betting. The state opened its doors last March to mobile sports betting, and a number of big-name operators quickly hopped on the bandwagon.

Those within the industry think Illinois has the potential to become one of the biggest sports betting markets in the country. The state set a new record for sports betting handle by generating $633.6 million worth of wagers in March, but the numbers have slowly declined from there. On Wednesday, the Illinois Gaming Control Board reported just $506.3 million in sports betting handle for the month of May, which was a decline of about 5.6 percent from April’s total.

The state of Illinois took in $5.9 million in taxes in May. That means the state has generated just over $53 million in tax revenue since the industry launched back in March of last year. Illinois reported $36.2 million in revenue, which was down about 17 percent from April.

Illinois Still Among US Leaders in Handle

While the decrease in handle and revenue isn’t necessarily good news, the market is still booming relative to that of other states with legalized industries. That $506.3 million mark was still the second-largest sports betting handle generated in any state, trailing only New Jersey’s $814 million. New Jersey, which was the state that led the charge in asking the Supreme Court to legalize sports betting on a nationwide basis, has quickly become Nevada’s biggest rival within the industry.

Speaking of Nevada, the Silver State finished third with $478 million in handle generated in May. Pennsylvania ($447 million) and Michigan ($258 million) round out the top five.

Interestingly enough, New Jersey saw a significant rise in handle from April to May. Sports betting handle in the Garden State jumped by nine percent from month to month, which makes Illinois’ lackluster showing a bit of a surprise. Nevada’s sports betting handle rose by five percent from April to May, while the numbers in Pennsylvania and Michigan both fell by about six percent.

The vast majority of the wagers placed in Illinois were done so online. $481.5 million of the $506.3 million wagered that month came via online platforms. DraftKings, which has partnered with Casino Queen in the state, reported the most handle of any online sports betting operator with $165.7 million. FanDuel, which has partnership deals with Par-A-Dice Casino and Fairmount Park, was second with $155.4 million. BetRivers, the partner of Rivers Casino, checked in at a distant third at $76.5 million.

Barstool totaled $38.1 million in May, while PointsBet reported $37.3 million. William Hill brought up the rear at $8.3 million.

Unique Wrinkles in Illinois’ Industry

One potential impediment continuing to plague the industry is the fact that users are not allowed to sign up to place bets over the internet. Instead, people have to register for a sports betting app while physically located inside their partner’s land-based casino.

So, any and all users wanting to place bets via the DraftKings app in Illinois first have to sign up and download the app in East St. Louis at the Casino Queen Sportsbook. Illinois and Nevada are the only states in the US with such requirements in place for new users. May was the first month in which the no remote registration rule was in effect.

The vast majority of sports betting industries expect handle to drop from March to April because the NCAA basketball tournament is such a massive event. However, there is no real explanation for why an industry would see such a significant drop from April to May. Baseball, basketball, and hockey have all been in season.

Some within the industry believe that the upcoming football season will provide a boon to sports betting interest. Customers in Illinois were previously barred from wagering on college athletics, but a new amendment that was recently passed by the state House of Representatives will allow for betting on in-state college sports teams.

However, there’s another catch. In-state college sports betting will only be permitted inside brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Customers will not be allowed to place college sports bets online. The ban on wagering on in-state college sports teams has been in place since the law to legalize sports betting was initially approved back in June of 2019.

The aforementioned amendment passed by the House must also pass the Senate before Democratic Governor JB Pritzker can sign it into law. The amendment would run through July 1, 2023, if it is eventually approved.