Buoyed by an unprecedented schedule of US major sports and new operator launches throughout September, Illinois is off to the fastest start in the history of the country’s legal sports betting, report analysts at PlayIllinois.
According to official data, the region recorded $305.2m in bets during the course of the month, making the Prairie State the fourth to surpass $300m in sports bets in a single month and the first to reach the milestone so quickly after launching.
“Illinois’ launch in July came just as US major sports returned to action, and that may have helped hypercharge the market,” noted Dustin Gouker, lead analyst at PlayIllinois.com.
“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.”
Illinois joins Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as the only states with a handle of more than $300m in any one month, a landmark reached in just its third month after launch.
By comparison, New Jersey surpassed the figure for the first time in its sixth month, and fourth month after launching online betting, when it tallied $330.7m in November 2018.
Furthermore, Pennsylvania hit $300m in its 13th month after launch, and sixth month after debuting online betting, when it reached $316.5m in November 2019.
“Pennsylvania gives Illinois a nice barometer for how the market is doing, and so far, Illinois is off to a much faster start,” stated Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIllinois.com.
“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 adjusted gross revenue statewide, down from $7.2m in August, which resulted in a $1.1m injection into state coffers. Boosted by the continuation of remote registration, which has been extended until December 12, online bets accounted for 97 per cent, or $283.1m, of the month’s handle.
BetRivers/Rivers Casino, which has dominated the market so far, led with $112.7m in overall handle, including $98.6m online. DraftKings/Casino Queen gained ground with $98.3m in bets and $95.9m online, with FanDuel/Par-A-Dice Casino collecting $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.”