Football’s Absence Drops Illinois Sports Betting Below A Billion
The lack of football betting opportunities is mostly to blame for Illinois sportsbooks failing to hit $1 billion in sports betting handle for the first time in five months.
Yet, it was still a banner month for Illinois, which continues to be a national leader. Illinois produced handle of $875.4 million in February, ranking it second in the United States behind only New York ($1.47 billion) and ahead of New Jersey ($847.4 million), Nevada ($659.4 million) and Ohio ($639.8 million).
The February numbers were released late last week by the Illinois Gaming Board.
Prior to February, Illinois was riding a four-month streak with over $1 billion in handle each month. That streak made the Land of Lincoln just the fourth state to post four consecutive months of billion-dollar handle. The others are New York, New Jersey and Nevada.
Lack of football betting brings end to billion-dollar streak
Yet, Illinois’ February decline makes sense when you consider the popularity of betting on football.
Play Illinois took a closer look at the numbers. They show Illinoisans bet just shy of $300 million on football — both college and pro — in December. With only a handful of college bowl games and a slate of NFL playoff games, that number dipped to $214.5 million in January. In February, with only the Super Bowl offered on Feb. 12, the amount bet on football in Illinois fell to $47.8 million.
That accounts for much of the difference between the February handle of $875.4 million and the January’s all-time record total of $1.07 billion.
Handle in Illinois over the last five months:
- February — $875.4 million
- January — $1.07 billion
- December — $1.029 billion
- November — $1.03 billion
- October — $1.03 billion
The difference between football betting in January and February was $166.7 million. Add that to the February total for all sports of $875.4 million and handle would have been over $1.04 billion in Illinois.
That means, had there had been the same number of football betting opportunities in February as existed in January — assuming a relatively constant level of betting, of course — and Illinois would have posted its fifth straight billion-dollar month. It would also have been the second best month in Illinois sports betting history.
It is expected betting on March Madness will help Illinois push closer to $1 billion in handle when March figures are released. In 2022, Illinoisans collectively bet $286.2 million on the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments.
Super Bowl betting in Illinois down 21% from 2022
A further look at the football numbers also gives us an idea how much was bet on the Super Bowl in Illinois. Though actual figures were not released this year by the IGB, we can assume all of that $47.8 million was bet on that one game since there were few — if any — other football games played in that month.
That’s down 21% from the $60.5 million the IGB reported was bet on the Super Bowl in 2022. Yet, the 2023 total is up, marginally, from the $45.6 million bet on the Super Bowl in 2021.
Illinois sports betting handle up 29% over February 2022
Despite not reaching a billion dollars in handle in February, that was probably a lofty goal.
In February 2022, Illinois sportsbooks took in $679.4 million in bets. That means this February’s total of $875.4 million is up 29% year-over-year.
There’s a good explanation for that.
In March of 2022, legislation came into effect allowing Illinois residents to sign-up online for sportsbooks, rather than doing so at one of the state’s land-based casinos. The decision to allow residents to register online with one of the state’s seven legal sportsbooks has been a boon to the industry.
Illinois through the first two months of 2023
Illinois produced revenue of more than $63 million in February (down 24% from January). The state collected just shy of $11 million in taxes (down 29% from the month prior). The hold was 7.2%, down from 8.3% from January.
That means the 2023 totals for Illinois through two months are:
- Handle of $1.945 billion
- Revenue of nearly $152 million
- Taxes of $26.4 million
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Illinois officially over $20 billion lifetime
Also, notable in February’s figures is the fact Illinois has officially surpassed $20 billion in lifetime sports betting handle.
In January, Illinois jumped over Pennsylvania into third place in lifetime sports betting handle with over $19.7 billion bet on sports. Illinois’ January numbers also pushed the total, lifetime sports betting handle in the United States over $200 billion.
To date, IL sportsbooks have now produced handle of more than $20.6 billion.
For all of 2022, Illinois sports betting handle was exactly $9,751,301,251. Illinois ranked third in sportsbook handle in 2022 behind New York (over $16.2 billion) and New Jersey (just shy of $11 billion).