llinois sportsbooks posted a month-over-month decline in betting volume for the first time since launching in March 2020, continuing what was a national trend in February. But the state still managed to surpass Pennsylvania to place third among U.S. states for the month, as bettors placed nearly $510 million in wagers, according to the state’s Gaming Board.
With open online registration still in place in February, the month's total was down 12.3% from January’s record handle of $581.5 million, but Illinois’ handle was $246,772 more than Pennsylvania’s ($509.5 million), marking the first time it finished in the top three nationally since it started taking bets in March 2020. Leaders were New Jersey ($743 million) and Nevada ($554.1 million).
"Passing Pennsylvania should be momentous but it is almost certainly going to be short-lived, as the decision to return to in-person registration will likely mean the end of growth for the Illinois sports betting industry," said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayIllinois.com. "Open registration has been a key component in making Illinois one of the largest sports betting markets in the country. Forcing people to physically appear in a retail sportsbook is a counterproductive measure, which should be apparent whenever Illinois April data is released."
Bettors placed $18.2 million per day in the 28 days of February, which was down slightly from $18.8 million per day in January. February's handle also produced $30.3 million in operator revenue, down 38.7% from the record $49.4 million in January. But the month's win produced $35.4 million in taxable revenue, which yielded $5.3 million in taxes for the state and another $541,832 in local taxes.
"February's results in Illinois actually compare well to the other major markets in the U.S., showing that the state had yet to reach its ceiling," said Joe Boozell, analyst for PlayIllinois.com. "Even with the return of in-person registration, operators have set a good foundation of bettors that will sustain the industry, even as the rules stunt the market's growth."
For the first time in months, retail sportsbooks were open for a full month, attracting $19.6 million in bets. But online betting still drove 96.2%, or $490.2 million, of the state's handle. That is down from 98.9%, or $575.2 million, in online betting in January.
DraftKings/Casino Queen remained the market leader by accepting $199.8 million in online and retail wagers in February, which was down from the operator's $244.2 million handle in January but still represented 39.2% of the state's total handle. $196.5 million of February's bets came online.
FanDuel/Par-A-Dice Casino was second with its $158.9 million handle, $158.4 million of which came online. Its market share improved from 30.1% to 32.3%. FanDuel posted the highest online revenue for the fourth consecutive month with nearly $11.7 million, as four of the five operators reported lower totals compared to January.
BetRivers rounded out the top three with nearly $87.6 million in handle, which represented 17.7%, down from just shy of 19%. PointsBet and William Hill were close to unchanged in terms of handle amount month-to-month, with the former just shy of $40 million and the latter slightly above $8.9 million.