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Illinois Tops $760 Million in Sports Betting Handle For May

The Illinois Gaming Board released the statistics for May, revealing that the state took in $764.6 million in sports betting handle for the month. The total made Illinois the third-largest state in terms of handle for the month, falling just $1.8 million shy of passing New Jersey for second place behind New York. 

Illinois Tops $760 Million in Sports Betting Handle For May

Large handle and an impressive hold to back it up

May was a strong month for Illinois sportsbooks. The Illinois Gaming Board has issued a report containing a variety of statistics for the month, showing many great signs for the strength of the market. Handle typically decreases during the spring and summer months as the sporting calendar becomes thinner, and May was no exception – the $764.6 millon handle represented an 8.9% drop from the $839.4 million the state’s online bookmakers handled in April. The dip is no cause for alarm, given the seasonal difference and more importantly the fact that handle was up a whopping 50.7% from May of 2021.

In addition to the strong numbers in terms of handle, the sportsbooks in Illinois fared quite well against the public for the month. Books collectively posted a hold of 8.8%, crushing the national average of 7.1% and beating the state’s April hold by almost half a percent. Their success over the public delivered more than $67 million in revenue. More than $10 million of that went to the state of Illinois via taxes, making it the third time Illinois sportsbooks have contributed eight figures worth of tax money to the state in a single month.

The house wins on parlays and basketball, public does well on baseball

Parlay betting is traditionally more lucrative than straight bets for operators, and the May numbers for Illinois showed that the perception is indeed reality. Books as a group posted a massive 20.5% hold on parlay bets, with the $31.8 million in revenue generated accounting for nearly half of the total hold for the month. FanDuel was especially profitable on parlay bets, crushing the public’s linked wagers by holding an enormous 29.7% on the $69.7 million wagered in the category.

The NBA playoffs were in full swing during May, and the sportsbooks came out quite well, holding 7.9% of the $192.9 millon wagered on basketball. Baseball betting was almost as popular in terms of handle, as Illinois’ operators took in $183.5 million in handle, but fans of America’s Pastime performed much better in terms of win rate, limiting books to just a 3.9% hold. The numbers reveal the impact of the public’s baseball betting success, as the sport represented 24% of the total betting handle for the month, but accounted for just 10.5% of the state’s collective sports betting revenue.

FanDuel and DraftKings represented the top sportsbooks in the state, and by a wide margin. FanDuel’s $253.7 million in handle topped all operators and represented a third of the total handle in the state. DraftKings was the only other book to reach nine figures in handle with their $204.1 million. BetRivers was a distant third, posting $82.7 million in handle, with PointsBet and BetMGM rounding out the top five operators.

Unrestricted online access still fueling market growth

Sports betting became legal in Illinois on March 9, 2020, and while the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in some alterations to the initial requirement that customers register in person for an online sports betting account, the state’s restrictions still kept the industry’s growth slower than in other states. The in-person registration requirement was lifted for good in March of 2022, and the state’s robust numbers since show that in spite of being around for two years, there is plenty of room for growth.

Online sports betting made up the lion’s share of Illinois sports betting, with barely 5% of the state’s sports betting revenue coming from retail channels. The numbers prove that sports bettors like the convenience and variety offered by online sports books, and with the coast clear for new players to join without and hurdles, Illinois should continue to see market their market grow as new bettors get in on the action.

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