Buoyed by an unparalleled US major sports schedule and the launch of new operators during September, Illinois is off to the fastest start in the history of legal sports betting in the country, analysts at PlayIllinois say.
The area reported $305.2m in bets over the course of the month, according to official statistics, making the Prairie State the fourth to exceed $300m in sports bets in a single month and the first to cross the mark after launching so quickly.
Dustin Gouker, lead analyst at PlayIllinois.com said: “Illinois’ launch in July came just as US major sports returned to action, and that may have helped hypercharge the market.
“Pent-up demand is expected to fuel a new market, but Illinois has been able to capitalise on the additional demand that has been unleashed after sports were shut down this spring. It’s been a perfect storm for sportsbook operators.”
As the only states with a handle of over $300 m in any one month, Illinois joins Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, a milestone achieved in just its third month after launch.
By contrast, in its sixth month and fourth month after introducing online betting, New Jersey exceeded the figure for the first time when it totaled $330.7m in November 2018.
In addition, in its 13th month after launch, and sixth month after debuting online betting, Pennsylvania crossed $300m when it reached $316.5m in November 2019.
Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIllinois.com added: “Pennsylvania gives Illinois a nice barometer for how the market is doing, and so far, Illinois is off to a much faster start.
“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 $6.8m in statewide adjusted gross sales, down from $7.2m in August, resulting in an infusion of $1.1m into state coffers. Online bets accounted for 97 percent or $283.1 m of the month’s handle, helped by the continuation of remote registration, which was extended until December 12.
BetRivers/Rivers Casino, which so far has dominated the market, led with $112.7 million in total handling, including $98.6 million online. With $98.3m in bets and $95.9m online, DraftKings/Casino Queen gained ground, with FanDuel/Par-A-Dice Casino earning $78.6m.
“DraftKings and FanDuel will continue to put pressure on BetRivers, which has really taken advantage of its early start in the market,” Welman added. “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.”