Sports betting revenues in the States have seen dramatic growth over the past two years thanks to two key variables… the relaxation of online gambling laws, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

As more and more states begin to open up online gambling and sports betting it is no surprise that revenues are rocketing, but combine that with the forced quarantining of bettors leading to a sharp increase in online gambling since June 2020 and you have a recipe for riches. 

One of the many U.S. states enjoying such success at the moment is Illinois, which positioned itself as the third-largest sports betting market last year. Sportsbooks in the Prairie State had a solid end to 2021 – with almost $40m revenue on nearly $800m in wagering in December alone.

It was the third consecutive month of $780m+ in betting to total nearly $7bn in wagers for the year. December’s revenue return demonstrated that online betting made up $752.9m (95.3%) of all wagers.

It was a 60.6% increase from the previous year (December 2020: $491.7m) and was the second-most in state history – behind a record $840.4m for October 2021, just two months earlier. 

But that’s not all – the latest available figures for January 2022 demonstrate an even bigger return. As online betting sites have expanded their business in Illinois have collectively smashed the state record once again with a whopping $867,505,495 total handle ($829,112,962 online). Let’s see how we got to this point…

Pandemic proved a breakout year

Thanks to the official data from the government-official Illinois Gaming Board – who helpfully provide monthly Illinois sports betting reports – we can see just how far the revenue growth has come since June 2020. This was when a change in the gambling law coupled with effects of the pandemic began to see an increase in online gambling.

Let’s take a look at the first couple of months from June 2020…

June 2020

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax

July 2020

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax

August 2020

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$14,088,960$13,130,606$958,354$974,110$98,551$4,325
Grand VictoriaN/A$585,098$0$585,098$83,565$6,231$0
Hollywood JolietN/A$326,136$0$326,136$35,711$4,068$0
Hollywood AuroraN/A$167,406$0$167,406$26,942$3,596$0

September 2020

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$98,316,259$95,920,730$2,395,529$2,045,757$33,263$0
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill$2,216,866$1,331,231$885,635$496,215$12,173$95
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,141,444$0$1,141,444$158,037$20,160$0
Hollywood AuroraN/A$1,088,023$0$1,088,023$145,492$17,276$0

The Illinois Gambling Act came into play in 2020, allowing citizens of the state to play online but it also required bettors to visit a casino *in person* in order to sign up for online sports betting accounts. However, the onset of COVID-19 in March of that year saw the in-person registration requirement suspended.

As we can see from the results above, that led to a huge uptake of Illinois citizens registering for sports betting accounts directly online – with as much as 94% of all sports bets being placed online in August of 2020. 

It also meant a huge increase in revenues, especially between the first two months (from $8m+ in June to a whopping $52.5m in July) before more than doubling each month thereafter.

This was a perfect opportunity for online platforms to cash in on the new betting trends – between July and August there was an increase in the amount of online platforms from two to eight in the space of a month.

The trend continued into 2021

With six months of getting used to a ‘new normal’ of online sports betting, the turn of the year with the pandemic still in force saw the total handle break the half a million mark in January alone. 

NFL betting helped keep the fire burning heading into the play-offs, with a large proportion of the revenue coming from football

January 2021

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$244,196,209$243,538,843$657,366$16,423,303$2,334,761$154,716
Hawthorne Race CoursePointsBet$40,591,090$40,439,434$151,657$4,412,405$630,133$7,247
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill$9,270,978$8,917,196$353,782$616,486$73,260$3,162
Hollywood JolietN/A$309,047$0$309,047$73,440$9,001$0
Hollywood AuroraN/A$260,106$0$260,106$37,939$3,065$0

A year on from the commencement of the online betting market in Illinois, revenue was still going strong, though slightly down owing to the lack of major U.S.-based sporting events at that time of year.

June 2021

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$160,232,154$157,097,096$3,135,058$13,959,204$2,043,430$142,788
Rivers Des PlainesBetRivers$83,170,641$71,205,903$11,964,738$7,527,408$1,097,844$96,861
Hollywood AuroraBarstool$30,407,563$28,681,992$1,725,571$2,084,480$338,451$21,390
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill$6,644,281$5,865,460$778,821$504,006$19,306$2,450
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,175,282$0$1,175,282$95,949$12,415$0

As we mentioned at the top, revenues finished incredibly strongly by the end of the year…

December 2021

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$294,985,404$290,351,200$4,634,204$7,458,441$957,719$78,212
Fairmount ParkFanDuel$232,243,488$230,561,954$1,681,534$13,860,860$1,939,242$133,627
Rivers Des PlainesBetRivers$133,364,051$116,567,365$16,796,686$7,637,398$1,042,525$95,757
Hollywood AuroraBarstool$56,136,844$53,495,432$2,641,412$2,327,826$353,447$24,488
Grand VictoriaCaesars$15,464,408$13,689,285$1,775,123$657,828$103,859$0
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,359,485$0$1,359,485$92,296$8,623$0

Record amounts of online betting

Heading into this year all the projections were for even further growth – and with big sports play-offs including the NFL on the horizon as the New Year turned, the state record was blown once again as we can see from the figures below…

January 2022

LicenseeOnline BrandTotal HandleOnline HandleRetail HandleTotal RevenueState TaxLocal Tax
Casino QueenDraftKings$293,210,435$283,693,274$9,517,161$17,213,926$2,909,547$192,726
Fairmount ParkFanDuel$261,179,473$259,129,905$2,049,568$22,997,524$3,847,289$296,441
Rivers Des PlainesBetRivers$147,649,772$135,841,102$11,808,670$11,172,020$1,754,318$160,951
Hollywood AuroraBarstool$63,707,639$60,909,379$2,798,260$3,800,551$633,691$44,353
Grand VictoriaCaesars$16,585,947$15,021,868$1,564,079-$847,739$12,224$0
Hollywood JolietN/A$1,664,912$0$1,664,912$289,413$39,542$0

What does the near-future hold?

Even further gains are predicted for the state when it comes to its fledgling gambling status – Illinois could well surpass both Nevada and New Jersey as the outright leading state of online sports betting.


The sports betting industry in the state has now received a major boost with permanently eliminating the in-person registration requirement. This has allowed big operators to compete for customers and came right in time for the start of March Madness. 

Analysts forecast a record $1 BILLION in sports bets placed for March and once the report comes in, we’d expect they won’t be too wrong about that. The future of sports betting in the Prairie State is awfully bright indeed.