The Illinois Gaming Board is always the last to reports its monthly legal sports betting numbers but despite the tardiness, the state’s numbers always give us an interesting glimpse into the status of not only the state’s performance but that of the entirety of the US market.
On Thursday, Illinois released their long-awaited July numbers and unsurprisingly, they followed a broad pattern of handle drop-offs experienced around the country. July is typically the slowest month for sports betting in the US and this past 31-day July period supported that notion.
Eric Ramsey, analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayIllinois.com, said: “July features fewer prime betting opportunities and casual bettors are more occupied with vacations and other activities, and there isn’t much sportsbooks can do about that.”
Getting Into the Numbers
Illinois is reporting its worst sportsbook performance since September 2020 and by far the worst month of wagering activity in 2021. July represented the fourth straight month of handle drops in the Illinois market, with one more likely to come in August.
Sportsbooks in the state took in $369.1 million in July, which represents a 22.5% drop from the $476.5 million in June and miles off the record $633.6 million from March. July was just the second month in 2021 that the state handle came in under $500 million.
Revenues showed a significant month-to-month drop as well. According to the data released Thursday, gross gaming revenue for the state came in at $37.3 million, a 22.6% slide from the $48.2 million in June.
Sportsbooks, off their profits contributed $6.1 million toward Illinois state and local coffers, thanks to a reasonably high 10.1% hold. That number represents a 20.9% drop from the $7.7 million in June.
The most bet on sport in Illinois in July was baseball, like in all other states that have reported. It contributed $124 million toward the overall handle. No sport, including the Olympics which underwhelmed came close. Basketball contributed $44.8 million, tennis $44 million and soccer $34.3 million.
Illinois’ mobile sports betting handle continued to dominate the overall numbers although it continues to be an elephant in the room. The return of in-person registration for mobile apps could plague the overall industry going forward with trips to casinos for mobile sign-up becoming less and less attractive during the most recent COVID spike.
Overall, $351.4 million of the overall $369.1 million July handle came from mobile apps. Thats down 22.2% from $451.7 million in June but still an impressive 95.1% of the state’s betting total.
Addressing That Elephant in the Room
The state of Illinois has quickly risen up the ranks to become a reliable Top-3 mainstay on the list of bet-friendly states. But their elite status could be in danger thanks to a curious policy reinstatement and the incredible staying-power of COVID-19.
The elephant in the room is the state’s curious return of in-person only registration for mobile apps. Illinois had seen an explosion of activity, despite the coronavirus crisis thanks to a temporary remote registration angle that the state incredulously rescinded a few months ago.
With COVID-19 not going away and trips to the casino to sign up for betting apps becoming more of a tough ask, Illinois sportsbooks and ultimately its tax coffers look as though they could eventually miss out on a decent chunk of gambling dollars.
Joe Boozell, lead analyst for PlayIllinois.com, stated: “Illinois sportsbooks will not be able to take full advantage of the customer acquisition phase that comes with the beginning of every football season, which is vital for the growth of the industry. Because in-person registration was reinstated in April at the beginning of the slow season in sports betting, the industry has skirted the most severe effects of the state rule. But there will be no hiding from it during football season.”
The Good News
The summer sports betting season is in the books. Illinois hasn’t reported their August figures just yet, but a huge turnaround isn’t expected. September and the start of football season is when the state will see a major uptick in betting action… and it will be major.
Illinois, despite their slump still finished third in the nation in terms of sports betting handles. Look for records to be approached and even fall as the NFL season chugs along and for Illinois to maintain their elite status within the exploding US legal sports betting scene.