Illinois sports bettors wagered nearly $2 billion at Illinois sportsbooks in 2020. With that kind of handle generated in a year marred by a pandemic, it is not surprising that several sportsbooks are looking to launch in the Land of Lincoln soon.
When you consider sports betting did not launch in-state until March 2020, was impacted by restrictions due to the pandemic, and did not go live online until June, that number becomes even more impressive. It is not hard to imagine what a typical year might be like.
At the same time, it is not hard to see why sportsbooks are chomping at the bit to join the Illinois market.
Future Illinois Sportsbooks
With a record month in December ($492 million in bets), Illinois’s total handle for the year came out to about $1.9 billion. That number was good enough for Illinois to rank fourth in the country behind New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
If the ban on betting on in-state college teams gets lifted, exponential growth is certainly possible, making Illinois a land of opportunity for sportsbooks like Barstool. According to Penn National, the Barstool Sportsbook app could be the next to launch.
While online sports betting is the wave of the future, Barstool is planning on opening retail locations in possibly both Hollywood Casinos (in Aurora and Joliet).
If Barstool does not become the sixth online sportsbook in Illinois, there is a good chance it could be Unibet or BetMGM instead (both have applied for a license). Unibet officials have talked about launching early in 2021 but have yet to set a firm date.
There has been no word on when BetMGM plans to launch in-state, just that it will be in 2021. The Illinois Gaming Board website lists Unibet and BetMGM as ‘applicants.’ BetMGM applied in September; Unibet applied in November.
Other sportsbooks are rumored to be looking into launching in Illinois, but none have yet to provide any kind of timeline. Jumer’s Casino & Hotel has applied for a sports wagering license which would likely mean a Bally’s sportsbook could be coming soon.
There has been speculation that Jumer’s might become home to a FOXBet sportsbook, but this has not been confirmed.
Governor Comes Through For Online Sportsbooks
With the pandemic severely impacting casinos’ ability to take sports bets, much of the handle over the last year was bet online. While casinos are open for business again, many sports bettors will probably continue to turn to the easier option with the restrictions in place on casinos— online sports betting.
Even that was looking problematic since Illinois required online users to register in person. When the pandemic forced casinos to shut down, that made registration impossible. But a temporary order lifted the restriction.
However, Governor J.B. Pritzker has renewed that executive order every month since then, effectively making online registration semi-permanent in Illinois. He is expected to renew it again in March…and in April, and so forth, until online registration becomes fully permanent.