Illinois is off to the fastest start in the history of U.S. legal sports betting, according to analysts for PlayIllinois. Illinois released official data on Friday, showing that sportsbooks generated $305.2 million in bets in September, making the Prairie State the fourth state to surpass $300 million in sports bets in a single month and the first to reach the milestone so quickly after launching.
“Illinois’ launch in July came just as U.S. major sports returned to action, and that may have helped hypercharge the market,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst at PlayIllinois.com. “Pent-up demand is expected to fuel a new market, but Illinois has been able to capitalize on the additional demand that has been unleashed after sports were shut down this spring. It’s been a perfect storm for sportsbook operators.”
Buoyed by an unprecedented schedule of U.S. major sports in September, a bevy of operator launches, and a continuation of remote registration, Illinois established its place as the fourth-largest sports betting market in the United States by more than doubling its monthly handle from $140.1 million in August.
Joining Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as the only states with a handle of more than $300 million in any one month, Illinois reached the mark in just its third month after launch. By comparison:
- New Jersey surpassed $300 million for the first time in its sixth month after launch, and fourth month after launching online betting, when it tallied $330.7 million in November 2018.
- Pennsylvania hit $300 million in its 13th month after launch, and sixth month after launching online betting, when it tallied $316.5 million in November 2019.
Illinois’ September handle easily topped neighbor Indiana for the first time in September, which itself set a state record with $207.5 million in bets for the month, and Colorado, which generated $207.7 million.
Pennsylvania, the nation’s third-largest market and the most populous state with full-scale online sports betting, collected $462.8 million in September. The Keystone State, home to 12.8 million people, offers a strong comparison with Illinois, with its population of about 12.7 million.
“Pennsylvania gives Illinois a nice barometer for how the market is doing, and so far, Illinois is off to a much faster start,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIllinois.com. “The ingredients for Illinois’ rapid expansion have been pretty simple so far: It is a huge market launching under unique circumstances. As long as remote registration continues there will be no single legal market more attractive for operators.”
September’s bets yielded $6.8 million in adjusted gross revenue statewide, down from $7.2 million in August, resulting in a $1.1 million into state coffers. Boosted by the continuation of remote registration — which has been extended through Dec. 12 — online bets at the state’s five online sportsbooks accounted for 97%, or $283.1 million, of September’s handle.
BetRivers/Rivers Casino, which has dominated the market so far, led the market again with $112.7 million in overall handle, including $98.6 million online. But FanDuel and DraftKings, the two largest sportsbook operators in the country, both gained ground in their first full month of operation in Illinois. DraftKings/Casino Queen rose to $98.3 million in bets, including $95.9 million online. FanDuel/Par-A-Dice Casino collected $78.6 million in bets, including $78.4 million online.
“DraftKings and FanDuel will continue to put pressure on BetRivers, which has really taken advantage of its early start in the market,” Welman said. “That should be an interesting race to watch over the next few months. The bottom line, though, is that the more top-flight operators that launch, the healthier and more mature the market will become.”