US Sports Betting Update – competition heats up in Illinois after in-person registration ends

US Sports Betting Update – competition heats up in Illinois after in-person registration ends

Caesars Sportsbook has relaunched its mobile app and website in Illinois after the state scrapped its unpopular in-person registration requirement. Sports fans in Illinois previously had to visit a retail sportsbook to sign up for an online account, which stifled competition in the market. The in-person requirement came to an end this week, sparking a flurry of activity from some of the country’s largest sportsbooks.

The Caesars retail sportsbook is at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, 40 miles west of Chicago, and bettors were understandably reluctant to make the trip to register. DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers have dominated the Illinois market, partly because their retail sportsbooks are more conveniently located. As a result, Caesars did not invest much in the state and Illinois sports fans could not benefit from the lavish promotions it has been offering in the rest of the country.

That all changed this week. Caesars has relaunched in Illinois with a risk-free bet worth up to $1,100. That is a lot bigger than its previous welcome bonus – a risk-free bet that only went up to $300 – and it is also slightly larger than FanDuel’s welcome offer. Caesars Sportsbook said that customers “will immediately recognize as a substantial upgrade over prior versions of Caesars Sportsbook available in the state”. “We’re pleased to launch our best mobile sports wagering product and to reach more sports fans in Illinois,” said Chris Holdren, co-president of Caesars Digital. “This is an important step for us as we continue to expand our offering of best-in-class rewards for sports fans across the state.”

A Record Month for Illinois Sportsbooks

The in-person registration requirement also deterred BetMGM – one of the country’s top three sportsbooks – from launching in Illinois. This week, the popular brand made its long-awaited debut in the state. “This launch marks a significant milestone for BetMGM as we enter one of the country's biggest sports betting markets,” said BetMGM chief executive Adam Greenblatt. “We look forward to working with the state of Illinois to bring its passionate sports fans a new, innovative and unique sports betting experience.”

It will now compete for market share with DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers, Caesars, PointsBet and Barstool in Illinois, which is one of the five largest states for sports betting. Sportsbooks have already handled more than $7 billion in wagers since it was legalized in 2020, but it is expected to grow significantly as competition heats up.

Illinois tends to be the last state to report its trading figures. The Illinois Gaming Board has just revealed that sportsbooks handled $867.5 million in January. That set a record for the state, eclipsing the previous record of $840 million set in October 2021. Online sports betting accounted for 96% of that total, and it was driven by pro football as the NFL playoffs raged on. DraftKings held onto top spot in Illinois with a handle of $284 million, ahead of FanDuel, which handled $261 million. It will be interesting to see if BetMGM and Caesars manage to seize some of their share.

FanDuel Tightens Grip on New York

New York rapidly usurped New Jersey to become the largest state for sports betting after its online wagering market got underway at the start of the year. Four sportsbooks launched on January 8 – BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel – and they have since been joined by BetMGM, PointsBet, WynnBET and Resorts. The only remaining license, Bally Bet, is yet to launch.

Caesars stormed into an early lead after launching an astonishingly generous welcome bonus bundle in the Empire State. New customers received a $300 free bet, plus a 100% deposit match worth up to $3,000, and the bonus funds had a mere 1x wagering requirement. This bonus was promoted heavily in TV commercials during NFL playoff games, generating a lot of publicity for Caesars. However, that initial offer has now been replaced by a standard $1,100 risk-free bet bonus, and Caesars has lost its lead.

New York State Gaming Commission data shows that FanDuel captured a 37% share of the market in the week ending February 27. It handled $132 million and generated revenue of $10.4 million. That left FanDuel comfortably ahead of DraftKings, which handled $87.4 million in that week. Caesars was a distant third, with $68.3 million taken, although it was still comfortably ahead of BetMGM, PointsBet, BetRivers and WynnBET.

FanDuel is now decisively established as the number one online sports betting operator in New York. In February, it handled $552.6 million worth of wagers. That leaves it ahead of DraftKings ($379.7 million), Caesars ($316.6 million) and BetMGM ($150.3 million). PointsBet, BetRivers and WynnBET combined for around $91 million, bringing the total to $1.5 billion for the month. Resorts has only just launched. The March total is expected to be a lot higher due to the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

FanDuel Launches in Wyoming

Sports fans in Wyoming now have a third option when placing online wagers. FanDuel launched in the state on Thursday, allowing residents to download the iOS or Android app, or play via the desktop site. Wyoming legalized online sports betting last year, when BetMGM and DraftKings launched. It is the country’s least populous state, so it has not been a major priority for operators. Yet FanDuel has now made its eagerly anticipated move into Wyoming, dialling up the competition.

Wyoming becomes the 15th state the FanDuel Sportsbook is available, in addition to Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Only DraftKings is more widely available. FanDuel recently revealed that it held a 40% share of the US sports betting market in the final three months of 2021. That was down from 42% in the previous quarter, but it still means that it is the clear market leader. It plans to expand into new states and launch in Ontario this year in a bid to maintain the momentum.

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