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Illinois Sees Small August Sports Betting Rise While Closing the Book for US Scene

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A general view of Soldier Field with the Chicago skyline. Quinn Harris/Getty Images/AFP.

The state of Illinois, always the last to report their monthly legal sports betting hauls, is finally out with their August numbers and they followed the trends already established in the US market – handle increases along with revenue decreases.

With Illinois’ long-awaited August figures, it closed the books on what was a reasonable August for the broad US legal sports betting scene. Illinois numbers allow us to see just how the market fared through the summer and where the general market stands as we head into what is expected to be a healthy fall sports betting season. Oregon and Iowa have already reported their September sports wagering figures and if they are a sign of things to come, August could be the last month of moderate growth for Illinois before an inevitable September handle explosion.

The Figures

Illinois sportsbooks, like the rest of the US industry, had been in a prolonged slump, before August which saw a modest increase in sports betting activity. After dipping below the $400 million handle mark in July, Illinois’ books rebounded with a $400.4 million August handle, an 8.5% increase from July’s $369.1 million.

Revenues for Illinois sportsbooks took a bit of a hit in August, however, just like in a number of jurisdictions across the US reported during the month. Sportsbooks made $26.8 million in August, which represents the lowest adjusted gaming revenue for the market in 2021. An unusually low 6.71%-win rate for the state’s books is a major contributor to the revenue slide.

State and local tax coffers still benefitted to the tune of just over $4 million in August.

Illinois in the Grand Scheme

Illinois has elevated to and maintained elite status within the entirety of the US legal sports betting scene. August was no different. When all data was gathered, Illinois maintained its #3 spot on the list of most successful legal sports betting states.

Illinois’ $400.4 million August handle was still miles off New Jersey’s, but just $27.8 million behind second-place Nevada. Illinois was able in August to put some distance between itself and fourth place Pennsylvania, generating $52 million more than the Pennsylvania market.

As far as year-to-date overall sports betting handles, the Illinois scene ranks third with just over $4 billion for the first eight months of 2021. New Jersey is #1 in that metric with $6.1 billion so far in 2021 with Nevada at #2 with about $4.2 billion.

So far in 2021, $319.5 million in revenues have been generated by the Illinois legal sports betting industry. That’s second behind only New Jersey.

A total of $47.9 million in taxes has been generated for state and local coffers in Illinois since January.

A Look at How the Entire Us Market Is Doing

The end of August marked the two-thirds point of 2021 and a look at the numbers generated so far in the broad US legal sports betting industry show just how strong it has been.

2020 set the standard for the industry with a total handle of $21.5 billion generated by all jurisdictions in the US market. Well, 2021 has already surpassed those numbers with four months of football yet to go in 2021. With Illinois added in, the entire US scene has seen just over $25 billion spent at the nation’s sportsbooks in the first eight months of this year, already eclipsing 2020’s record numbers.

It All Adds up To

The Illinois legal sports betting scene may be tardy in its reporting of monthly numbers, but it has shown just how important it is to the rest of the market in general. As the caboose on the US legal sports betting train, Illinois has allowed us to sit back and not only reflect on their state’s impressive sports betting figures but those of the whole US industry as well.

Takeaways from the Illinois August report are that the sports betting slump is officially over in Illinois and around the country, that major spikes are on the way and that the US industry, overall, has been remarkable thus far throughout 2021.