Thanks to a surge in online wagering – and the return of college and professional football – the sports betting handle in Illinois more than doubled from August to September.
Bettors made a total of $140m in wagers in August, followed by $305m in September, according to figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board. There are eight licensed sports betting operators in the state.
The August numbers were an improvement of 167% from July, when $52.5 million in wagers were placed. Illinois was the fifth-largest sports betting market in the United States in August. Its ranking for September is yet to be determined.
In September, $285m was wagered on professional sports - $264.4m online and $20.7m in person. The second biggest category was college sports with a total of $19.7m in handle, followed by $259,740 on motor racing and $3,119 on “special events.”
Football was the most bet-upon sport, attracting $91.4m in handle. Baseball was second with $65.7m in handle, then basketball with $48.5m. The soccer handle was $16.6m, while the tennis handle was $16.1m.
Midwest Gaming & Entertainment, LLC, Des Plaines, Illinois, and a subsidiary of Churchill Downs, Inc., led the way with $112.6m in sports betting handle.
Sports wagering has grown in Illinois even as bettors faced obstacles in becoming registered. The state government changed rules regarding in-person registration three times this summer in response to COVID-19 lockdown protocols. On Aug. 21, the in-person registration requirement again was suspended, allowing bettors to register online or via their phones.