Illinois Operators Post September Sports Betting Handle Of Nearly $305 Million


More online sports betting options and a jam-packed sports schedule contributed to Illinois sports betting operators posting a handle of nearly $305 million for the month of September, according to figures released Friday by the Illinois Gaming Board.

The total more than doubles August’s report of $139.6 million, which was the first individual month of reporting by the IGB. Its initial release covered the months of March, June, and July when most pro sports were on hiatus and there were massive COVID-19-related shutdowns. Through those months, a combined $61.7 million in wagers were placed.

Of the $304.96 million wagered in September, more than $282.8 million came from online bets. BetRivers was the exclusive mobile operator in Illinois until Aug. 19, when DraftKings was cleared to accept wagers. FanDuel joined the fray nine days later.

The two online titans combined for more than $174.1 million of the online handle, with DraftKings totaling more than $95.8 million and nearly eclipsing BetRivers, which paced the online sportsbooks in September with a $98.5 million handle. There is still some upside left for Illinois to tap in terms of a higher handle for October, considering PointsBet did not begin mobile operations until Sept. 12 and William Hill launched its mobile component Sept. 15.

Bettors in the Prairie State held their own in September wagering as the sportsbooks — five mobile and eight retail — combined to generate only $6.8 million in gross revenue, resulting in a 2.39% hold that was well off August’s win rate of 5.18%.

The 15% tax rate on September’s revenue resulted in slightly more than $1 million filling state coffers. Cook County, home to Chicago and recipient of a 2% tax on revenue from all wagers physically placed within the county, received $82,312 on more than $4.1 million in gross gaming revenue.

A three-way tango of online sports betting, Part I

Mobile sports betting in Illinois is currently allowed under Executive Order 2020-41, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued in June. The order suspended the in-person registration requirement to gain access to mobile sports wagering.

Pritzker renewed that executive order for a fifth time Friday via Executive Order 2020-71, extending that suspension through Dec. 12. All 10 retail casinos in the state are currently operating under advanced COVID-19 mitigation measures that include limited operating hours and a 25% capacity limit, which hinders the in-person registration process.

That executive order also accelerated the timetable for DraftKings and FanDuel to find ways to enter Illinois. The capital bill Pritzker signed into law in June 2019 that included gaming expansion called for a 540-day waiting period from when the first retail sports betting license was issued to the IGB accepting the first stand-alone online sports betting license application.

Rather than wait until January 2022, when an online-only application could be submitted, both DraftKings and FanDuel partnered with brick-and-mortar casinos in Illinois — Casino Queen for DraftKings and Par-A-Dice for FanDuel. Based on September’s report, the two seized a good deal of the market-share margin BetRivers amassed in the three-month window of exclusivity from its mobile launch in June.

BetRivers had slightly more than 2.16 million online bets placed in September, but that was 5.5% fewer than the nearly 2.3 million placed in August. By comparison, DraftKings had nearly 3.8 million online wagers placed in September and FanDuel recorded nearly 3.4 million.

A three-way tango of online sports betting, Part II

While the volume of wagers may have dropped for BetRivers, it maintained a high amount of money per wager placed. The average online bet at BetRivers in September was $45.55, slightly off August’s mark of $46.23, but well above DraftKings and FanDuel, which recorded average wagers of $25.23 and $23.26, respectively.

Both online titans were preferred in different betting venues by Illinois patrons. FanDuel dominated in what Illinois calls Tier 1 betting, which is defined as a wager “determined solely by the final score or final outcome of the sports event and is paced before the sports event has begun.” For these types of bets, FanDuel accounted for nearly 2.5 million bets placed compared to the 2.72 million combined by DraftKings and BetRivers.

FanDuel, though, had an average amount of $19.91 on such wagers while DraftKings took $24.71 per bet and BetRivers nearly matched their combined total at $42.20 per bet. For Tier 2 betting, which includes live in-game betting, DraftKings shined — it accepted 1.99 million such bets, more than BetRivers and FanDuel combined (1.73 million).

Again, though, what BetRivers lacked in volume it compensated for with the size of the bet — its average Tier 2 wager was $47.93 compared to $31.47 for FanDuel and $24.71 for DraftKings.

PointsBet, William Hill make online presence known

PointsBet — which did not open its retail sportsbook at Hawthorne Race Course until Sept. 30 — showed a high upside in the online arena, especially for live betting as it generated an overall handle of nearly $8.9 million in 18 days. In that Tier 2 category, in which the Australian-based book accepted 28,780 bets, patrons placed an average wager of $108.69. Overall, bettors plunked down $54.25 per wager with PointsBet on more than 147,000 bets.

William Hill’s handle totaled more than $1.3 million in its first 15 days of mobile operation, with nearly 98% coming from Tier 1, pre-game betting. The British-based book, which has its Illinois retail base at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, had an average online Tier 1 wager of $129.53 and $126.69 overall from slightly fewer than 9,200 wagers placed.

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