Illinois’ sports betting ecosystem endured its maiden month-over-month decline in volume for the first time since launching in late July, with the February performance maintaining a much detailed national trend.

Despite narrowly surpassing Pennsylvania to place third among US states for the month, concern is noted at the return of in-person registration, which analysts suggest could stymie growth for as long as it is in place.

With open registration still in place in February, Illinois retail and online sportsbooks attracted $509.8m, which is down 12.3 per cent from the record $581.6m in January.

Bettors placed $18.2m per day in the 28 days of February, which was down slightly from $18.8m in January. Illinois’ relatively modest pullback made it the third-largest US market in terms of money wagered, gaining ground on leaders New Jersey ($743m) and Nevada ($554.1m), while topping Pennsylvania ($509.5m) for the first time.

February’s handle also produced $30.3m in operator revenue, which represents a 38.7 per cent drop from the record $49.4m scored just one month earlier. The month’s win produced $35.4m in taxable revenue, which yielded $5.3m in taxes for the state and another $541,832 in local taxes.

“Passing Pennsylvania should be momentous but it is almost certainly going to be short-lived, as the decision to return to in-person registration will likely mean the end of growth for the Illinois sports betting industry,” commented Jessica Welman, analyst for

“Open registration has been a key component in making Illinois one of the largest sports betting markets in the country. Forcing people to physically appear in a retail sportsbook is a counterproductive measure, which should be apparent whenever Illinois April data is released.”

DraftKings/Casino Queen remained the market leader with $199.8m in online and retail wagers in February, which was down from the operator’s $244.2m handle in January but still represented 39.2 per cent of the state’s total handle. $196.5 million of February’s bets came online.

FanDuel/Par-A-Dice Casino was second with its $158.9m handle, $158.4m of which came online.

“Barstool had just three weeks to build a customer base in an open environment, which should put it at a permanent disadvantage against the market leaders,” Welman added. 

“That said, their brand is popular and should draw significant interest, helping to grow the market. It could be the last hurrah, of sorts, as new operators might be deterred by in-person registration.”