As the COVID-19 pandemic caused massive sports shutdowns, forcing some minor league teams and leagues to fold entirely, the tide has started to turn for sports betting operators. After the first three full months of sports betting, Illinois brought in $285 million in September alone, and those numbers are a delight to sports betting providers.
Illinois officially launched sports betting in March, but the COVID pandemic spoiled the launch. However, gaming officials and sports betting providers continued to move forward, with all kinds of incentives to open mobile sports betting accounts. Sports betting insiders in Illinois credit sports betting mobile access as the biggest reason for success in the first three months.
Although the state didn’t go overboard on a launch, to maintain social distancing and crowd size guidelines, they did manage to draw in some crowds at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Ill., where sports betting officially launched on Mar. 9.
Chicago Blackhawks broadcaster Eddie Olczyk was on hand to place the first official sports betting wager.
The launch of Illinois’ sports betting industry couldn’t have come at a worse time, though it was no one’s fault. With sports shut down and a return uncertain, the industry looked stagnant out of the gates.
However, once baseball returned, Illinois sports betting exploded. Before too long, the Illinois figures surpassed that of Indiana’s gross totals, quickly becoming the hottest sports betting market in the Midwest.
Indiana brought in a sports betting handle of $208 million for September and $231 million for October. The Illinois Gaming Board, which oversees sports betting in the state, released the September numbers Friday evening, claiming a $285 million hold. The board has not yet released the October numbers, but Illinois’ sports betting surge should continue for the foreseeable future.
Experts say it’s possible Illinois’ gambling handle could generate more than $5 billion in revenue over the next few years. With five professional teams in the state, although betting on in-state collegiate athletics is still prohibited by state law.
Around the region, Iowa officially launched sports betting over the summer on Aug. 15. Iowa reported sports betting figures for September at $82 million, which is very solid for a population of 3.155 million people. In comparison, Illinois has a population of 12.67 million people. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Ohio have not yet legalized sports betting, but Michigan plans to launch before the end of 2020.
New Jersey Remains The Champion Of Sports Betting
The ‘Garden State’ is still the market to beat, bringing in a whopping $803 million sports betting handle in October alone. After the Supreme Court overturned a sports betting ban in 2018, New Jersey was the first state to launch sports betting in June of the same year. While Nevada was exempt from that ban and has had sports betting since 1949, New Jersey brings in numbers every month that far surpasses all other states, including Nevada.