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Illinois Long Awaited April Handle Puts State in Rarified Air

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Illinois Long Awaited April Handle Puts State in Rarified Air
Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Sawyer Bengtson.

The state of Illinois, always the last to report their legal sports betting numbers finally released their April figures on Wednesday.

Although it supported the trend of industry-wide slowdowns for the month, the Illinois market became the fourth in the nation to eclipse the $4 billion lifetime handle and was propelled to second place on the list of bet-friendly states in the country.

Illinois’ numbers came as a bit of a surprise for industry insiders. The state finished second in terms of their overall handle among participating states on the heels of a betting menu absent of any big sporting event.

It also surprisingly coincided with the end of the highly popular but temporary remote sign-up procedures for the Illinois mobile betting platform.

Getting Into the Figures

The state of Illinois couldn’t escape the predictable summer sports betting slowdown, but the figures revealed a market that wasn’t as hard-hit as others by the seasonal downturn.

Illinois sportsbooks took in $537.1 million in bets during April – a 15.2% drop from March’s record handle of $633.6 million. Illinois was one of just two legal sports betting states that was able to eclipse the one-half billion-dollar mark for the period.

The Illinois Gaming Board reported $43.6 million in profits for the state’s sportsbooks which represents a palatable 1.6% drop from the $44.3 million in sportsbook profits from March. The relatively small drop was due, in part to a sportsbook win-rate of 8.12%, compared to the 6.99%-win rate in March.

More Numbers

Thanks to the high win-rate for Illinois sportsbooks, tax contributions to state and local coffers came in at $7.1 million. That number represents a reasonable 1.2% drop from March’s $7.2 million in taxes that were siphoned from sportsbook revenues.

The mobile betting handle continued to be the big story of Illinois’ overall scene. Betting apps were responsible for $513.2 million of the overall $537.1 April overall handle, or a whopping 95.5%. Retail contributed just $23.9 million to the Illinois overall sports betting take.

It is unclear whether or not the Illinois mobile scene will be able to keep up that pace. On April 2, Gov. JB Pritzker failed to renew the emergency order allowing remote registration, making the far-less attractive in-person registration for betting apps the only option in the state.

The Silver Medal

For the first time ever, Illinois was able to land in second place on the list of bet-friendly states in the US market. $537.18 million put Illinois miles behind New Jersey’s April handle of $748 million but ahead of Pennsylvania’s $479.4 million and Nevada’s $458.2 million.

Maintaining the silver medal position may be a difficult ask for the state of Illinois. The already-mentioned, restrictive in-person sign-up requirement for its mobile platform could set Illinois back and the anticipated “Free-from-COVID” summer could bolster the betting action in Nevada in particular.

The Bigger Picture

With Illinois’ April sports betting numbers in the books, the scope of the nation’s industry wide slowdown came more into focus. The national sports betting handle landed at $3.7 billion for April, marking the first time since December that the country’s total sports betting handle didn’t eclipse the $4 billion mark. The total US legal sports betting handle was $4.6 billion in March by comparison.

Revenues nationally also declined dramatically in April. $256.1 million was made from the country’s sportsbooks in April – down 15.7% from the $310.9 million in March.

In the End…

The Illinois and national sports betting markets will be waiting eagerly for September and the start of the NFL season. But the late end to the NBA and NHL seasons, the upcoming Olympics and Euro 202 soccer tournament at least give the industry hope for a better-than-expected summer.

We have seen a few states May figures already and they haven’t quite followed analysts’ doom and gloom forecast for the summer sports betting scene.

In the end, while Illinois may have peaked in terms of their standing on the sports betting leaderboard during April, there is still little doubt about their standing as an elite market going forward