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Illinois Removes Barrier to Online Sports Bets, and It Pays Off

Illinois Illinois Removes Barrier to Online Sports Bets, and It Pays Off
Apr 13, 2022 22:04Tim Ronaldson

The numbers just proved that when states remove barriers to entry for sports betting, they reap the massive rewards.

Illinois recently set a new wagering record in last month, when $278.4 million was wagered during the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. Another $7.8 million was wagered on the women’s college basketball tournament, according to the Illinois Gaming Board, which released revenue totals on Tuesday of this week.

One of the main drivers of the massive handle on the two March Madness tournaments was the fact that the state removed a major barrier to entry for people interested in betting on sports in the state.

In-Person Registration No Longer Required

Illinois was relatively early to legalize sports wagering, doing so back in 2019 as part of a large bill that expanded gambling practices throughout the state. They were also relative progressive, too, allowing sports gambling to happen online right from the beginning.

One of the odd rules that Illinois had, though, was requiring people to sign up for an online sportsbook account at a retail sportsbook. That meant that if a bettor wanted to wager online, they had to visit a brick-and-mortar sportsbook location first to sign up for an account.

That might have been only a minor hassle for people who lived in locations near land-based casinos in the southern part of the state. However, for the millions of people who live in and near the state’s largest city of Chicago, it was a major barrier to them betting on sports at all.

If these bettors wanted to wager at the three largest online sportsbooks the U.S. has to offer — DraftKings, BetMGM or FanDuel — they had to travel upward of four hours to get there to sign up for an online account. Many of these people obviously didn’t do this. The better option for some would be to travel roughly an hour across the border to Indiana, which allows online sports betting.

When that in-person registration requirement was permanently removed in March, it paved the way for a huge influx of new online sports betting accounts. And that ultimately proved to be very fruitful for these bettors and the state as a whole.

The State’s Sports Betting Numbers

The numbers released by the Illinois Gaming Board revealed that 96% of all the bets on the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments were placed online. That’s certainly not a surprise, considering similar trends across the country, but it’s an extreme change of pace for Illinois.

Of the $286 million that was bet on March Madness in the state, $14.3 million went to adjusted gross receipts. This is the amount that sportsbooks won after they paid out all the winnings.

In addition, the huge betting numbers resulted in the state of Illinois getting roughly $2.1 million in revenue from taxes.

The total amount wagered on March Madness this year represents a $200 million increase over last year. That’s an enormous year-over-year increase that has to be significantly attributed to the fact that people no longer have to register for a new online sportsbook account in person.

For sports bettors, March Madness was a very successful time. Compared to the Super Bowl, bettors made out much better. In that major sporting event, sportsbooks in Illinois reported adjusted gross receipts of $9.5 million on roughly $61 million in total wagers. That’s a hold of only roughly 5%, compared to the normal hold of approximately 10%.

Still, March Madness betting in Illinois proved that removing barriers to entry is a win-win-win for all the major stakeholders involved in the sports betting industry — sportsbook operators, sports bettors and the state government.

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Tim Ronaldson
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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