The Illinois Gaming Board reported on Thursday a state-record traditional sports wagering handle of $1.07 billion for the month of March, continuing an incremental improvement since Illinois’ first billion-dollar handle last fall.
The March figure was just $2.7 million above January’s total, and the Prairie State topped $1 billion for the fifth time overall. Last October, it crossed $1 billion for the first time at $1.03 billion, with handle for both November and December coming within $1 million of that benchmark.
This was the 35th occasion any state surpassed $1 billion handle for a month, and Illinois moved ahead of Nevada for third-most times doing so, behind New York (14) and New Jersey (11).
It was also a good month for operators, who claimed $97.2 million in gross revenue, the second-highest total in state history behind the $102.1 million last October. The hold was 9.1%. All but about $71,000 of that total was eligible to be taxed, giving the state $14.6 million worth of receipts for March.
Handle was up 22.5% compared to February and 10.4% versus last March, which was then a state record at $971.3 million. First quarter adjusted revenue totaled $261.6 million, 59.7% higher than the comparable period in 2022. As a result, state taxes from sports wagering are running $14.9 million above the first three months of last year.
Illinois’ handle also pushed the national total for the month above $10 billion — the fourth time it has reached that threshold in the post-PASPA era. With only Arizona yet to report for March, it seems unlikely the national total will surpass the record $11.49 billion established in January.
Caesars surges to be the best of the mobile rest
Running March Top 10 #SportsBetting handles by state:
1 New York $1.79B
2 ILLINOIS $1.07B <-NEW
3 New Jersey $1.03B
4 Nevada $830.5M
5 Ohio $738.6M
6 Pennsylvania $723.5M
7 Massachusetts $568.1M
8 Virginia $511.6M
9 Colorado $494.4M
10 Indiana $433M#GamblingTwitter
— Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73) May 11, 2023
Caesars Sportsbook has only recently found its stride in Illinois, as its rollout in August 2020 as William Hill during the COVID-19 pandemic failed to gain any real traction when mobile wagering took off in the state. It had only surpassed $20 million handle once heading into 2022 and did not clear $50 million until November.
That month, however, started an impressive run in which Caesars set highs in December and January before a slight dip in the shorter month of February. Caesars flourished in March with a record handle of $78.5 million — the second-highest handle of any operator in state history outside the state’s “Big 3” of FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetRivers. Its first quarter handle totaled $190 million, up 168.8% year-over-year.
Despite a modest 5.1% win rate, Caesars also set its monthly high for revenue in Illinois at just over $4 million, topping its previous best of $3.6 million last October. The surge in handle to start 2023 has contributed to the $7.6 million in revenue being a nearly seven-fold increase from the first quarter of 2022, though that is inflated to a degree since Caesars posted losses in January and February of last year.
FanDuel paced the state’s seven mobile operators with $40.2 million in revenue, the third time it cleared $40 million, and posted a 10.9% hold on $367.6 million in completed events handle. It was the ninth straight month FanDuel’s hold in Illinois reached double digits, and the online titan was the first to surpass $1 billion handle for the year.
DraftKings set its all-time high with $27.2 million in revenue, scoring an 8.4% win rate on $325.3 million in accepted wagers. The March handle also lifted its all-time total in the Land of Lincoln above $7 billion. BetRivers was a strong third in both categories, claiming $8.4 million in revenue from $95.8 million handle.
Though PointsBet was sixth in handle at $56.8 million, its 10.8% hold pushed the Aussie-based book to fourth in revenue with $6.2 million. BetMGM rounded out the top five for revenue at $4.7 million, notching an 8.2% hold from $57.6 million handle.
Barstool Sportsbook rounded out the group with $48.4 million handle and $3.6 million revenue on a 7.4% win rate. It was a challenging first quarter for the PENN Entertainment book, as its Illinois revenue slipped 8% compared to 2022 while handle declined 28.7% to $128.2 million.
Parlays continue to print money for operators
All-time Top 10 #SportsBetting handles post-PASPA (thru April in CAPS):
1 New Jersey $36.7B
2 Nevada $31.9B
3 NEW YORK $23.3B
4. Illinois $21.7B <-NEW
5 Pennsylvania ~$21B
6 Indiana $11.71B
7 Colorado $11.68B
8 Michigan $10.2B
9 Virginia ~$9.6B
10 Arizona $8.98B (Feb)
— Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73) May 11, 2023
Among the few states that provide handle and revenue for parlay wagers, only New Jersey qualifies as a peer to Illinois. It continues to be an outsized source of revenue in the Midwestern state, with March bringing operators $58.7 million in winnings. That was the second-highest total in state history, trailing only the $60.4 million claimed last October.
The parlay hold topped 20% for the first time this year as completed events handle totaled $292.4 million. Nearly 60% of operator revenue in the first three months of 2023, $156.3 million, was generated through parlays.
Basketball provided the highest single-sport revenue at $25.4 million, which was expected with the NCAA Tournament mostly playing out in March. The IGB did not furnish tournament-specific numbers, but revenue from wagering on basketball spiked 47.5% higher compared to March 2022 despite a 5.8% drop in handle to $509.3 million.
Tennis was a robust second for both handle and revenue, with $80.2 million wagered and $4.9 million in revenue as the house had a 6.1% hold. Besides parlays, the house’s best performance came in soccer, as a 9.3% win rate led to $3.9 million in winnings from $41.4 million in wagers.
Conversely, bettors came out $683,262 ahead on more than $14 million in boxing and mixed martial arts wagers. That was a stark reversal from February, when the house pounded the public and posted a 24.8% hold to pick up $2.6 million.