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After a slow start, Illinois finished 2020 with nearly $2 billion in sports bets placed, storming onto the scene to become the nation’s fourth-largest market.

Investors, sports fans, journalists, and businesses are interested in tracking sports betting revenue, and looking at a state’s market in-depth can glean valuable insights.

We’ll keep you up to date with the latest economic data and analysis from the business of sports betting in the Prairie State. Check out the table below for a snapshot of Illinois sports betting revenue information, then learn what to expect in 2021 and beyond.

Latest IL Revenue News

Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened recently with regards to Illinois sports betting revenue.

June 2021 – Illinois reports $476 million in sports wagers for the month of June, the first time the state’s betting handle has dipped below $500 million since December 2020. However, sportsbooks generated $47 million in adjusted gross revenue, up more than 30 percent from May and narrowly missing a state record. Basketball and baseball each generated approximately $127 million in bets in June to pace Illinois sportsbooks. $101 million was taken in on parlays, generating nearly $23 million in revenue.

Illinois became the fourth state to surpass $5 billion in total betting handle and the fastest to achieve this milestone. It took the Prairie State 16 months since launch, breaking New Jersey’s previous mark of 18 months.

May 2021 – Illinois once again posts the second-highest betting handle of any state for the month, reporting $507 million wagered on sports in May. Through five months of 2020, Illinois is in a tight race with Nevada and Pennsylvania for the nation’s second-largest sports betting market behind New Jersey.

April 2021 – Illinois reports $537 million wagered on sports in April, the second-highest betting handle of any state for the month. Sportsbooks generated just shy of $44 million in gross revenue. Over 95 percent of Illinois’ April handle was wagered online, with basketball, baseball and parlays making up the bulk of wagering for the month.

March 2021 – Illinois smashes its monthly record with $633 million in wagers. Basketball accounts for more than half of the betting handle, with $365 million wagered on hoops. The Illinois Gaming Board did not separate college basketball from NBA in its reporting, but with over $100 million more wagered on the sport than in February, there’s little doubt March Madness generated a huge betting volume. Some estimates peg Illinois’ NCAA Tournament betting handle to be over $200 million, reflecting a basketball-crazed state.

February 2021 – For the first time in nine months, Illinois does not set a new monthly record in sports betting handle. Still, the state surpasses $500 million for a second time as the Illinois Gaming Board reports $509,794,592 in wagers in the month of February.

January 2021 – Illinois becomes the fourth state to eclipse the $500 million mark in a single month, generating $581,553,300 in betting handle. With its eighth-straight record high, Illinois is now on pace to take over $7 billion in sports bets in 2021.

Illinois Sports Betting Revenue: Month-by-Month

Sports Betting Dime tracks the growth of legal sports betting by tallying monthly revenue reports for each state.

The table below shows Illinois’ betting handle, gross gambling revenue, and hold percentage, as well as state tax revenue collected each month since its launch in March 2020.

Here’s what each number represents:

  • Handle refers to the total amount wagered on sports.
  • Revenue reflects the gross gaming revenue kept by sportsbooks after paying out winning bets.
  • Hold percentage shows how much revenue sportsbooks kept as a function of the betting handle.
  • State tax revenue displays taxes collected by the state and local jurisdictions.
Month/Year Total Handle Revenue Hold Percentage State Tax Revenue
March 2020 $997,739 $72,028 7.22% $12,242
April 2020 $0 $0 0.00% $0
May 2020 $0 $0 0.00% $0
June 2020 $8,281,803 $368,651 4.45% $59,446
July 2020 $52,524,820 $3,623,985 6.90% $585,623
August 2020 $140,065,649 $7,233,360 5.16% $1,176,754
September 2020 $305,222,938 $6,837,289 2.24% $1,107,906
October 2020 $434,310,957 $42,200,300 9.72% $6,807,284
November 2020 $449,239,162 $41,286,027 9.19% $6,618,259
December 2020 $491,720,536 $23,873,152 4.86% $3,823,629
January 2021 $581,553,300 $47,945,298 8.24% $7,670,847
February 2021 $509,794,592 $35,393,768 6.94% $5,850,897
March 2021 $633,614,957 $44,317,702 6.99% $6,647,655
April 2021 $537,158,723 $43,605,926 8.12% $7,068,029
May 2021 $507,279,761 $36,230,990 7.14% $5,854,318
June 2021 $476,517,310 $47,517,215 9.97% $7,684,808
Total (since launch) $5,128,282,247 $380,505,691 7.42% $60,967,697

Sports Betting Dime will update this table monthly with the figures provided by the Illinois Gaming Board.

It’s worth noting that Illinois finished 2020 with one of the lowest annual hold percentages in the country at just 6.67 percent. A low hold rate is good news for bettors, as it means sportsbooks are keeping less money out of every dollar wagered.

Hold rates are variable and not entirely within the realm of control for sportsbooks or state governments. These rates are subject to factors such as bet balance or even the types of wagers placed (there’s usually more juice built into futures and parlays, for example).

All that to say, on average, Illinoisans seem to be getting a fair shake so far.

Illinois Market Overview

Here’s some important information to keep in mind when evaluating the Illinois sports wagering market.

State Population (2020 Census): 12,812,508

In-state Pro Teams: Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox (MLB), Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Sky (WNBA), Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Fire (MLS), Chicago Red Stars (NWSL)

Launch Date: March 9, 2020

Biggest Monthly Handle: $633,614,957 (March 2021)

Regulator: Illinois Gaming Board

Platforms: Online and retail

Tax Rate: 15 percent

Illinois Sports Betting Revenue Insights

Illinois’ sports betting market faltered out of the starting gates in part due to unlucky timing. The first legal sports wagers were accepted at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines on March 9, 2020. Within days, all of the state’s casinos were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic’s onset. They would remain closed for much of 2020.

Unfortunately, the casino closures also left virtual doors shut due to Illinois’s in-person registration requirement for online bettors. Lawmakers eventually suspended this regulation, and online sportsbooks gained traction throughout the summer and fall. Illinoisans wagered over $1.8 billion on sports in 2020, and the Illinois sports betting market continues to gain speed.

Let’s look at what to expect in 2021.

On Pace for $7 Billion or More in 2021

At its current growth rate, Illinois should easily see $7 billion wagered on sports in 2021. New Jersey is almost certain to beat its own annual record ($6,016,968,399) set last year, and we don’t expect it to lose its top spot anytime soon, but Illinois is on a trajectory to have the best first full calendar year of any state.

Lifting the in-person registration requirement for online betting did wonders for Illinois, making it that much easier for sports bettors to get started from their computers and mobile devices. We’re somewhat surprised Governor J.B. Pritzker re-instated in-person registration requirements after seeing the explosive growth enabled by remote registration in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

Still, don’t be surprised if Illinois gives Pennsylvania a run for its money in 2021. The Prairie State could well finish the year as the third-largest sports betting market in the US behind New Jersey and Nevada.

Further Expansion Coming

What does Illinois need to do to surpass Pennsylvania and move into third place? It could well happen just by staying the course, especially with the long-awaited re-opening of IL casinos in late January 2021, providing a boost. However, as of the end of February 2021, Illinois had just five online sportsbooks. That’s a pretty small number compared to PA (11) and other top sports betting markets.

BetMGM, Unibet, and others have stated their intentions to launch their online sportsbooks in Illinois in 2021. More competition in the market should lead to improved odds and juicier bonuses for IL sports bettors. It’s almost certain to raise the ceiling in Illinois, and we expect IL to jump past Pennsylvania once more operators go live.

Keep Up with Illinois Sports Wagering

Sports Betting Dime will keep you up to speed with the latest IL sports betting revenue insights as the market continues to expand.

Learn more about the Prairie State’s sports wagering history, rules and regulations, bonuses, and more by visiting our in-depth page on where to bet online in Illinois. You can also check out our state-by-state sports betting revenue tracker to see how IL compares to other markets across the US.

Have fun and enjoy the action out there!

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A lifelong athlete and sports fan who’s worked in sports for over ten years, Natalie brings a firsthand perspective and keen interest in sports business to her work. She’s excited to observe and analyze the future of the sports betting industry as it heats up.