We can officially close the books on the worst US legal sports betting month of 2021 thanks to the Illinois Gaming Board finally releasing their July numbers. The seasonal sports betting slump spanned the entire nation in July with none of the participating jurisdictions seeing an uptick in betting activity.
Illinois regulators are slow reporting out their sports betting numbers, but the industry typically waits on the elite wagering jurisdiction to see just where they, as a whole, stand month-to-month. There was little drama in July – Illinois simply followed the broad US pattern of double-digit losses.
Eric Ramsey, analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayIllinois.com, said: “July features fewer prime betting opportunities and casual bettors are more occupied with vacations and other activities, and there isn’t much sportsbooks can do about that.”
Illinois sportsbooks reported a $369.1 million handle in July – a 22.5% drop from the $476.5 million in June and nearly $265 million off the record $633.6 million recorded in March. July was the worst month for sports betting in Illinois in 2021, the fourth straight month a decline in betting activity was reported and the second straight month the Illinois handle landed under the $500 million-mark.
Revenues, just like in the broader US scene also fell double-digits. Illinois gross gaming revenues came in at $37.3 million in July which represents a 22.6% drop from the $48.2 million in June.
$6.1 million in taxes was collected for the state’s sportsbooks in July – a 20.9% drop. The hold-rate was a respectable 10.1%.
Baseball Carries the Load
With a severely limited sports betting menu in July, baseball was able to carry the load for Illinois sportsbooks. The Olympics didn’t nearly live up to wagering expectations.
Illinois bettors dropped $124 million on baseball in July, by far the most of any sport, with basketball generating $44.8 million, tennis $44 million and soccer $34.3 million. Parlays continued to be a major contributor to the state’s overall handle as well.
Illinois’ Mobile Conundrum
Illinois saw a major spike in mobile wagering throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period. Governor Pritzker temporarily allowed for remote registration for the state’s betting apps during that period. It led to a huge increase in registrations and a related spike in the percentage of bets in the state being made online.
Curiously, the Governor reversed his decision for remote registration in the spring and for the last three months, bettors in the state, during the fourth wave of COVID, have been forced to visit a retail casino to sign up for mobile betting apps.
Joe Boozell, lead analyst for PlayIllinois.com, stated: “Illinois sportsbooks will not be able to take full advantage of the customer acquisition phase that comes with the beginning of every football season, which is vital for the growth of the industry. Because in-person registration was reinstated in April at the beginning of the slow season in sports betting, the industry has skirted the most severe effects of the state rule. But there will be no hiding from it during football season.”
Through it all, the mobile betting scene in Illinois doesn’t seem to have suffered…yet. In July, $351.4 million of the overall $369.1 million July handle came from mobile apps. Thats down 22.2% from $451.7 million in June but still 95.1% of the state’s betting total.
Thank Goodness for September
Illinois will have to endure one more down month – August. But thanks goodness for September, when the start of the NFL season will mark an incredible turnaround for the Illinois and nationwide legal sports betting industries.
Illinois, despite the summer struggles, has been able to maintain its spot at #3 on the list of most bet-friendly states in the nation, with little reason their status as an elite betting jurisdiction is in trouble. In-person sign-up for mobile apps could threaten to bring them down a bit but the mobile betting industry in the state appears to be established enough for it not to be a deathblow for the impressive scene.