Betting volume at Illinois sportsbooks hit $507 million in May, overcoming in-person registration requirements to fall only slightly from April, according to analysts from PlayIllinois, which tracks the state’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market. May’s handle was the second-largest of any state in the U.S., joining New Jersey as the only two states in the U.S. to take in more than $500 million in sports wagers in both April and May.
“It’s been a mild surprise that Illinois has managed to fare as well as it has through the first two months of what is typically the offseason for sports betting,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIllinois.com. “In-person registration requirements will cap future growth. But the results in April and May do show just how active and engaged Illinois bettors have been.”
Betting at Illinois’ retail and online sportsbooks dropped 5.6% to $507.3 million in May from the $537.2 million in April, according to official data released Tuesday. The pace of betting slowed modestly, too, to $16.9 million per day over the 31 days of May from $17.9 million per day in April.
Gross gaming revenue fell 12.9% to $36.6 million in May from $42 million in April. That produced $36.2 million in adjusted gross revenue, yielding $5.9 million in state and local taxes. Sportsbooks have now generated $53.8 million in taxes since sports betting launched in 2020.
The handle in nearly every state has fallen since March, even as combined U.S. wagering climbed slightly in May from April. Of the Top 10 U.S. markets, Illinois’ month-over-month decrease in May wagering was behind the pace of New Jersey (up 8.9%), Indiana (up 7.6%), Nevada (up 4.3%), Colorado (up 1.8%), Iowa (down 2.9%), and Virginia (down 4.0%), but outperformed Michigan (down 6.0%), Tennessee (down 6.7%), and Pennsylvania (down 6.7%). Illinois’ handle dropped 15.2% in April, but that was better than most of the nation’s 10 largest markets, which all saw at least a 13% decline in betting from March to April.
Basketball has been the favorite over the last two months, generating $154.3 million in wagering in May, down from $171.4 million in April. Bettors have found local reasons to place a bet, too, particularly with a good run of play in May by the Chicago White Sox and Cubs. Bettors placed $126.1 million on baseball, up from $121.2 million in April.
Tennis ($32.6 million), soccer ($29.3 million), and hockey ($21.1 million) all drew significant action, too.
“Successful local teams are particularly important in months without football or a major betting holiday like March Madness,” said Joe Boozell, analyst for PlayIllinois.com. “Both the White Sox and Cubs won big in May, and that entices fans to place a bet on their favorite team. That helped make up for the Bulls and Blackhawks missing the postseason, lowering interest in both the NBA and NHL playoffs.”
$482.5 million, or 95.1%, of May’s bets were made online. DraftKings/Casino Queen rocketed back into the market lead with $170.1 million in combined online and retail handle, up from $169.6 million. May’s handle included $166.2 million in online bets and led to $7.2 million in gross gaming revenue.
FanDuel/Fairmont’s online and retail sportsbooks attracted $156.3 million in bets in May, down from $177.8 million in April. But the month’s bets, $155.6 million of which came online, generated a whopping $20.2 million in gross gaming revenue.
BetRivers/Rivers Casino rose to $89 million in combined handle, including $76.7 million in online wagering. That led to $5.2 million in gross gaming revenue.
The leaders were followed by:
– Barstool/Hollywood Casinos ($39.6 million in wagers, including $38.2 million online; $1.5 million in revenue)
– PointsBet/Hawthorne Race Course ($39 million in wagers, including $37.4 million online; $2.3 million in revenue)
– William Hill/Grand Victoria ($9.1 million in wagers, including $8.4 million online; -$128,245 in revenue)
– Argosy ($2.7 million in wagers; $338,081 in revenue)
– Hollywood Joliet ($1.2 million in wagers; $167,282 in revenue)
– Par-A-Dice ($327,350 in wagers; -$236,850 in revenue)
The market could get more competition in the coming months, too. That includes the Illinois arrival of BetMGM, the nation’s third-largest online sportsbook operator, as well as Unibet, Golden Nugget, theScore, and Bally’s.
“A fresh infusion of operators has the potential to eventually lift the ceiling for the market,” Boozell said. “But until online registration returns to the state, new operators will remain at a permanent disadvantage. And that will blunt any boost the market would ordinarily get from new sportsbooks.”