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Illinois’ Sports Betting January Takes the State and Nation to New Heights

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Illinois’ Sports Betting January Takes the State and Nation to New Heights
In this drone image, a general view of Soldier Field with the Chicago skyline. Quinn Harris/Getty Images/AFP

It has become a monthly tradition to wait on the tardy sports betting reports out of Illinois to see just where it stands in comparison with the rest of the elite-class of participation states. It also forces us to wait and see just where the fast-growing National handle ends up in a given month.

The figures out of Illinois for January didn’t disappoint. They revealed not only another spike in sports betting handle for The Land of Lincoln but also a new high-water mark for sports betting nationally. With a nearly $600 million January sports betting handle from Illinois, the total US legal sports betting scene crossed the magical $4 billion threshold for the first time ever.

January in Illinois

Illinois legal sports betting is approaching its 1-year anniversary which comes March 9. The industry has been nothing but gold since taking its first bet, and in January Illinois became just the fourth state in the nation to surpass $500 million in bets in a single month. Jessica Welman, analyst for, went on record singing the praises of the Illinois scene, saying: “No state has made a bigger splash in its first year of regulated sports betting than Illinois.”

Illinois sportsbooks took in a $581.5 million total sports betting handle for January which represents an impressive 18.3% increase from December’s handle of $491.7 million. An eye-opening $575.2 million came from the state’s mobile betting platform, which is a 17% increase from December’s $491.7 million.

Retail Accounted for Just $6.3 Million of Illinois’ January Handle.

Revenues for January saw an even bigger month-to-month increase. Illinois sportsbooks made $47.9 million in January for about an 8.5% hold, up 100.3% from the $23.9 million in profits from January. Off of that, $7.7 million in taxes was collected for state and local coffers from January’s profits, up from $3.8 million in taxes paid in January.

Where Illinois Put the National Handle

The $581.5 million Illinois sports betting haul easily took the National handle past the $4 billion milestone. With Illinois added in, January’s total US sports betting handle came in at about $4.375 billion, up from $3.77 billion in December. It not only marks first time the US legal sports betting industry surpassed $4 billion but it was the fourth straight month the US scene brought in over $3.2 billion.

With more states coming online and more sportsbooks eyeing launches in existing legal sports betting states, it is expected that the National Handle will continue to find new gears in the upcoming months. $5 billion in sports bets for a month isn’t far off.

Compared to Other States…

Illinois still ranks as the fourth-best legal sports betting jurisdiction. But it isn’t far off the #2 and #3 bet-friendly states in the nation. A huge population base, a rabid sporting scene and the presence of all of the top-tier sports betting providers in Illinois could propel the state to Top-3 in the not-too-distant future.

New Jersey seems out of reach for all states in the legal sports betting industry. The Empire State saw $958.7 million in legal sports bets in January and $996.3 million in December. Nevada, the current #2 on the list saw $646.5 million in total handle in January and #3 Pennsylvania reported $615.3 million.

More Help on the Way

One of the most exciting names in the US legal sports betting industry, Penn National’s Barstool Sportsbook launched in Illinois on Thursday and brings with it, a legion of followers and the promise of big things in the Land of Lincoln market. Their launch in Pennsylvania and Michigan were nothing short of incredible and the same is expected for Illinois.

A couple of other provider Heavyweights are also on the verge of an Illinois presence. Both BetMGM and Unibet have completed their application process and are just waiting on the go-ahead to start providing services in Illinois.

Looking Toward February and March

From the data trickling in from participating legal sports betting states, there may be a slight drop for Illinois in February, but we will have to wait a month or so to see. The end of the NFL season combined with the fact that there are only 28 days in February seems to have influenced the industry’s numbers.

But Illinois bettors have shown an affinity to basketball – hoops contributed $230 million toward the record January handle, by far the most of any sport. And with the leadup to March Madness and NBA intrigue heating up, it looks as though there will be no drop-off in February and March.