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Illinois Sports Betting Culture Continues to Grow

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Illinois Sports Betting Culture Continues to Grow
Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP

The state of Illinois has long been considered one of the legal sports betting markets to keep an eye on. With a few tweaks to the way they do business, the potential is slowly starting to be realized for a market that boasts their share of pro and top-end college teams and a rabid fanbase that looks as though will help Illinois climb into the next tier of bet-friendly states.

The Illinois legal sports betting scene got off to a bit of a rocky start. Launch came in March, right at the start of the coronavirus crisis. Initially, legislators and regulators adopted an in-person only sign-up rule for mobile betting – a rule that has since been temporarily been relaxed. The result has been a huge spike in the state’s overall handle thanks to not only the sporting world climbing out of a COVID hole but also the state allowing remote sign-up for internet betting. And that trend is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The Numbers

It is no coincidence that Illinois saw an incredible spike in their August sports betting handle. Three of the four North American sports were in full swing and the state had just signed up an estimated 230,000 bettors, thanks to their newly adopted but temporary remote mobile betting sign-up procedure.

The August total sports betting handle was $139.8 million, up 166.7% from July’s total of $52.5 million. Revenues for August also climbed to $7.2 million which produced $1.2 million in tax revenue for state and local coffers. The August numbers are near where analysts thought they could be at this point in time and give credence to the notion that Illinois has hit the tip of the iceberg with regard to their overall sports betting potential.

To Nobody’s Surprise

It was the mobile betting platform that dominated the Illinois August handle. Online wagering accounted for $123.5m of the nearly $140 million handle (88.4%). Retail was responsible for just $16 million which itself is not a surprise due to the reduced capacity at local casinos thanks to the COVID crisis.

The $123.5 million mobile betting haul represents a 155.4% increase while the retail’s jump was an even more impressive 302.4%. It is clear, though data from more established and successful states that mobile is going to have to continue to dominate in order for Illinois to take the next step in their legal sports betting progression.

Where Illinois Ranks

Illinois, thanks to Gov. JB Pritzker’s relaxing of the in-person mobile sign-up rule, has elevated itself in terms of the most bet-friendly states in the US. Their August handle actually ranked fifth in the nation behind New Jersey’s $668 million, Nevada’s $475 million, Pennsylvania’s $365 million and Indiana’s $169 million. Illinois came in just ahead of Colorado’s $128.6 million handle.

“August’s results are a testament to just how lucrative a market Illinois truly can be,” said Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayIllinois.com. “In-person registration was stunting growth, and that ended on

August 21… Even with that, Illinois found itself ahead of Colorado, which has matured much more quickly, and on the heels of Indiana, the country’s fourth-largest market.”

What Illinois Has to Look Forward To

September always represents an uptick for sports betting in the US thanks to the bread-and-butter NFL returning to action. College football was in full swing during September along with baseball, basketball playoffs, the NHL and the US Open Golf tournament. The sports betting menu was overflowing during the month of September which created an enormous sense of optimism about the future of the legal sports betting platform in the state.

Along with the commencement of the NFL, Illinois welcomed a pair of new Heavy-hitters sportsbook into the fold. William Hill launched on September 16 in Illinois, and PointsBet went live in four prime locations around Chicago including Hawthorne Race Course on September 30. They join some of the top providers in the business in one of the most exciting up-and-coming markets in the nation.

A Bit More About Pointsbet

PointsBet last month became official sports betting partner of the Chicago Bears and with it came a few special promotions for their clientele in the state. “On the House Booster” is one such promo that will offer “extremely favorable +86 spreadline” which represents a tip-of-the-cap to the 1986 Chicago Bears Super Bowl Championship.

PointsBet will also be offering the best price in-market for all Chicago Bears games for both pregame spreads and moneyline bets.