Big March Expected For Illinois Sports Betting

IL March handle

A recent update from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) points to a record-setting month for the Illinois sports betting industry.

An IGB administrator, Marcus Fruchter, reported on the handle and revenue from the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and the numbers were staggering.

According to Fruchter, the total sports betting handle on March Madness was $176.8 million, and the total revenue was nearly $15 million. Those numbers will improve even more after the final sportsbook submits its totals to the IGB.

What that means for the state is that it will receive at least $2 million in tax revenue from March Madness betting at Illinois sportsbooks. After a disappointing month of February, this boost could not have come at a better time for the state.

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There are some restrictions in place in Illinois that kept the handle and revenue numbers from being even larger than they already were. Betting on in-state college teams is prohibited in Illinois, and that includes both pre-game and future betting options.

Representative Michael Zalewski continues to fight to make some changes to this restriction, but he has yet to introduce a bill that gains enough support to advance. Athletic directors in the state of Illinois, including University of Illinois AD Josh Whitman, continue to oppose such measures.

The total sports betting handle for Illinois in February was just $509.8 million, but it still allowed Illinois to become the third-largest market for that month. January 2021 set a record with $581.5 million in sports betting handle, but there is a strong belief that it will be shattered when the final March numbers are revealed.

Illinois sportsbooks had better enjoy the growth now because those numbers are expected to decline beginning in April. In-person registration is now back in place in the state, and that is expected to have a negative impact on the industry.

Unibet, theScore Bet Still Waiting

There are still just five IL sportsbook apps in the state, even though there are two other operators that have been approved for a license. Barstool Sportsbook was the last to launch in the Land of Lincoln, having done so just in time for the NCAA Tournament.

Unibet was approved for a sports betting license in 2020, and an early spring launch was expected. theScore Bet was the latest operator to be approved by the IGB, but a target date has not yet been set.

The Illinois sports betting industry will become even more competitive with the launch of two new options, but there is reason for these operators to delay. Until remote registration is back on the table, these operators will struggle to obtain new customers and won’t be able to compete.

Pritzker is expected to keep a close eye on the sports betting handle and revenue numbers for the next few months, and he could once again issue an executive order to allow for remote registration. If Pritzker does act, look for both Unibet and theScore Bet to launch during that time period.

If you want to stay up to date on all sports betting in Illinois, then make sure you check back regularly on our news blog.

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