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Illinois sports betting handle hits $870m for January

Illinois sportsbooks broke the state record for handle once again in January, with almost $870m worth of wagers placed. 

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January’s total handle surpassed that of the previous record month in Illinois, in October 2021, which saw $840m wagered. The increase in sports betting activity can be attributed to the extended NFL season, expanded playoffs played over five weekends and increased basketball action. 

The official figure for January came in at $867.5m, an increase of 10% compared with December and 49% up over January 2021.  

Online betting accounted for $829m, or 96%, of the total wagers, while American football remained the most popular sport to bet on, producing $224m in wagers. 

Eric Ramsey, Analyst, PlayUSA.com Network, commented: “The NFL did sportsbooks a massive favour by expanding its regular season and playoff schedule. The fact those additional games were all squeezed into one month helped produce some eye-popping numbers in Illinois and beyond.” 

Despite the record-breaking month, it's likely to be surpassed once again in the not-to-distant future. Prior to 5 March, Illinois citizens were required to register, in person, at a retail sportsbook before they could place bets online. This requirement has now been permanently removed, potentially making online betting more accessible for bettors in the state. 

Joe Boozell, Lead Analyst, PlayIllinois.com, said: “The momentum of the last four months will serve sportsbooks well, as the removal of the in-person registration requirement on March 5 moved Illinois sports betting into a new era.  

“Sports betting has continued to gain popularity in the state, and with the reins lifted, Illinois could very well grow into the second-largest market in the US this year.” 

With the NCAA Tournament, college basketball’s main competition of the season, taking place between 15 March and 4 April, some predict Illinois could surpass $1bn in handle in the near future. 

In terms of individual sportsbooks, DraftKings took the largest amount of wagers, with $284m, while FanDuel was second, with $261m.  

A further operator, BetMGM, recently launched its services in Illinois, while other sportsbooks are expected to launch in 2022.

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