Illinois Sports Betting Handle Predictably Falls in April But Revenue Spikes

Illinois Sports Betting Handle Predictably Falls in April But Revenue Spikes
By Bill Ordine
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

The Illinois sports betting figures followed the national trend in seeing a dip in betting action in April after a robust March.

The total April handle was about $839.39 million, down 13.6% from March ($971.28 million), which is a month that benefits from the enormous fan enthusiasm for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Sports betting handle predictably trends downward through the spring and summer and then jumps during the NFL and college football seasons. In April, college hoops offers the Final Four, but that doesn’t make up for the sheer volume of games (and betting options) in the first two weeks of the tournament.

The month-to-month comparison is also a tough one for April because March 2022 set an all-time state record for handle, according to reports from the Illinois Gaming Board.

Revenue Rises For Illinois Sportsbooks

However, the good news for the state was that despite a drop in handle, April’s sports betting revenue of about $70.46 million was up 16.2% from the $60.63 million reported in March, and up 61.6% from April 2021 ($43.60 million). The April hold was nearly 8.4%, a marked improvement for the books over the previous month’s 6.2%.

April was also the first full month for BetMGM Sportsbook as one of the operators in the state. BetMGM joined the Illinois sports betting market in March, paired with East Peoria’s Par-A-Dice Casino.

The proportion of sports betting that was done online compared to wagers made in the state’s nine casinos that have sportsbooks showed that allowing for the online registration of sports bettors is taking hold. The April handle of $810.51 million with Illinois sportsbook apps represented about 96.6% of all sports wagering.

Illinois Sports Betting Handle, April vs. March

Total handleMobile HandleRevenue
April$839.387M$810.512M$70.462M
March$971.278M$927.535M$60.629M
Change Down 13.6% Down 12.6% Up 16.2%

Illinois Registration Requirements Change

The state did away with the requirement for in-person registration early in March. Before that, there was a moratorium on the in-person registration requirement early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that mandatory casino trip just to sign-up is gone entirely.

The state also benefitted from the jump in revenue. April sports betting tax was more than $11.41 million, up 15.7% from March ($9.87 million).

The top five betting sports in April were (in handle): Basketball about $296.21 million; baseball, almost $133.3 million; tennis about $64.87 million; hockey, $40.13 million, and soccer nearly $37.94 million. “Other sports” handle was about $40.75 million. The parlay handle, which typically provides the sportsbooks with a higher hold percentage, was nearly $190 million.

Illinois Casinos Down Slightly in May

Led by Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in Chicago’s northern suburbs, Illinois casinos had $116.57 million in Adjusted Gaming receipts (AGR) in May.

The Illinois casino numbers are reported by the state about a month ahead of the sports betting numbers, hence the casino figures for May coming out at about the same time as the sports betting financials for April. There are no real money online casinos in Illinois.

Of that total, $86.5 million came from Electronic Gaming Devices (EGDs) — or what most people would identify as slot machines — and about $30.07 million was from table games.

Among Illinois’ 11 casinos, Rivers Casino had $46.25 million of the state’s AGR, almost 40% of the total. Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin was second in AGR with more than $13.3 million and Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel was third with about $11.16 million.

Casino tax to the state was more than $22.7 million, and local share contributions totaled more than $6.6 million.

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Contributors

Bill Ordine covers state gambling issues for IllinoisBet.com. He was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years.

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