Illinois Generates $1 Billion in Handle Again for Profitable January

Illinois started the new year with the same sports betting aplomb with which the state ended 2023. In January, the Illinois Gaming Board reported that the state managed $1.3 billion in sports betting handle. That was the fifth consecutive month of handle more than $1 billion for Illinois, which is the longest such streak in state history. 

In total, operators in Illinois managed to combine for $135 million in sports betting revenue, which is the highest single-month gaming revenue figure in the state’s history. January’s figure was 5% higher than December 2023, where Illinois racked up $128.4 million in gross gaming revenue. 

In terms of tax collection for the state, Illinois managed $20.3 million in tax receipts. Cook County in Chicago, which adds a separate tax of 2%, collected $1.36 million. The state’s operators managed a double-digit hold, with January’s retention of 10.4% better than December’s hold rate of 9.7%. This was Illinois’ second-best hold rate ever after Illinois’ profitable run in May last year, with a win rate of 10.8%.

FanDuel Wins Big in January

While DraftKings and FanDuel competed fiercely in terms of betting handle, there was a clear winner in terms of hold. FanDuel collected $436.1 million in handle, a whole $10 million lesser than DraftKings, but generated revenue of $59.4 million, an all-time high in profits. FanDuel beat its previous record of $51.5 million in December 2023.

At 13.7%, FanDuel also enjoyed its second-highest hold rate since September 2022, when it managed to retain 15% of betting handle. FanDuel also became the first online operator to pass $1 billion in revenue for Illinois sports betting since operations began.

DraftKings collected a higher volume of wagers but couldn’t generate a double-digit hold. DraftKings led the state in sports betting handle with $446.1 million but retained $44.2 million as revenue, with a hold rate just shy of 10%. It was the second straight month of revenue of more than $40 million for DraftKings.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel have passed $10 billion in handle in Illinois. FanDuel currently owns a higher hold (3.5%) than DraftKings in the state.

January was additionally a record-breaking month for BetMGM and Caesars. BetMGM had a hold rate of 8.4% to pass $5 million in revenue for the first time. Caesars had a lower win rate at 6.8% but managed close to $5 million in revenue from betting handle of $72 million.

ESPN BET continued to struggle to retain its handle. The Penn-owned operator generated $93.3 million in wagers but had revenue of just $3.6 million, an indicator of rising costs, such as promotional expenses, not justifying the retention rate. BetRivers, in contrast, managed $85 million in handle but collected more than double in revenue at $8.4 million.

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Football Proves Profitable for Illinois Sportsbooks

Operators combined for close to $250 million in handle on football, with revenue of $22.2 million at a hold rate of 9.1%. While handle was down by more than 22% from December, the overall figures were still strong considering there were fewer NFL games because of the season moving into the postseason.

FanDuel managed more than $10 million in revenue on football alone, with a hold of 13.5% on a betting handle of $75 million. DraftKings collected more in wager volume, with a $92.5 million bet on the platform, but its volume was just over $5 million. 

There was close to $450 million in betting handle on basketball in January,, but operators couldn’t hold as much as football, with revenue totaling just $15 million.

Illinois Keeps Growing

Illinois has been a stronghold for sportsbooks for a while now. The state generated $9.74 billion in handle in 2022. The $10 billion landmark was breached in 2023, with four straight months of handle more than $1 billion to close out the year – September ($1.07 billion), October ($1.17 billion), November ($1.4 billion), and December.

In total, there were six individual months in 2023 when Illinois’ operators managed a betting handle above $1 billion. That trend has extended to the new year with a strong start in January, with record-breaking numbers across the board. 

Like with most other legal sports betting states, the slow-down due to the NFL’s offseason will likely bring dips in revenue and handle before picking back up towards the end of March. Yet, Illinois’ general patterns are excellent to start 2024, with forecasts expecting the state to surpass $12 billion in annual betting handle potentially.


About the Author
Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro

Nikhil Kalro covers the sports betting industry and revenue reporting at Gaming Today. Much of his work analyzes state revenue information, including betting activity and revenue for individual states and sportsbook operators. In addition, Nikhil provides news updates on the gambling industry itself, including product launches and legal issues. Nikhil’s previous experience includes five years with ESPN.

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