US Sports Betting Update – Illinois Sportsbooks Smashed All Previous Records in October
Illinois sportsbooks set a new state record by taking $840.4 million worth of wagers during October. That represented a 93.4% increase on the October 2020 handle, and it easily beat the previous record of $633.6 million set in March. It means that Illinois was the third largest state for sports betting in October, behind only New Jersey and Nevada.
October was a terrific month all round for the nascent US sports betting industry, as most states shattered their previous records. There were five full weekends of football, and the NFL season was in full swing. The Illinois figures pushed the nationwide handle past the $7 billion mark for the month.
Bettors in Illinois wagered $330.1 million on pro football during October and $127.3 million on college sports, with football probably accounting for the bulk of that. Yet it was a strong month for bettors, as the sportsbooks held onto just 2% of all NFL bets, leaving them with a revenue of only $6.4 million on pro football. They held $3.3 million on $93.3 million in basketball bets too. The best performing category for the sportsbooks was parlays, as they held 13% – or $24.5 million – of the $118.7 million wagered.
Overall, the revenue was $48.3 million, which equates to a 5.7% hold. DraftKings led the way by handling $308.8 million in online sports bets. However, it brought in revenue of just 11.7 million on that. FanDuel was a distant second in terms of handle, with $235.4 million, but it earned revenue of $22.3 million. BetRivers, owned by Chicago-based firm Rush Street Interactive, was third, with $119 million in online wagers handled and $8 million in revenue.
Connecticut Makes a Promising Start
Legal online sports betting began in Connecticut on October 19 following a one-week soft launch period. The state has only issued three licenses – to FanDuel, DraftKings and PlaySugarHouse – so no other operators can launch there. Those three sportsbooks handled $54.1 million in wagers during the days in which they were operational in October, and held $4.8 million in gross gaming revenue, according to a report from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
FanDuel had the largest handle ($27 million), but it held just 3.2%, resulting in revenue of $874,160. DraftKings handled $23.8 million, but held 15.3% for revenue of $3.645 million. PlaySugarHouse – which is also owned by Rush Street Interactive – was a distant third, with a handle of $3.2 million and revenue of $293,7732. The state earned $483,704 in tax revenue after the sportsbooks deducted almost $1.2 million in promotional spend from the gross gaming revenue.
We now have the October figures for every state with legal sports betting, apart from Arizona. New Jersey and Nevada both exceeded $1 billion. Illinois outstripped Pennsylvania, with Michigan in fifth, followed by Colorado, Indiana and Virginia. In Virginia, sportsbooks handled $427.3 million during October, which beat the previous month by 45.4%. It also easily broke the previous record of $304.1 million set in March, and it meant that Virginia was the fastest state to break through the $2 billion barrier.
Virginia was ahead of Tennessee, Iowa, New Hampshire, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Washington DC, New York, Delaware, Wyoming, Arkansas, Montana and South Dakota. Some of those states only offer retail sports betting, while retail sports betting is also up and running in tribal areas of New Mexico.
Maryland Sports Betting Industry Begins
Legal sports betting began in Maryland yesterday. Voters in Maryland approved sports betting in the November 2020 ballot. A bill then had to go through both chambers, where it received a few amendments, and Gov. Larry Hogan signed it into law on May 18. Since then, legislators have been laying out the regulatory framework for the industry. Last month, the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency awarded five retail sports betting licenses.
MGM National Harbor was the first to launch when it opened the doors to a BetMGM sportsbook on Thursday. Gov. Hogan visited to place the first bet. He wagered on Washington Football Team and the Baltimore Ravens meeting in the Super Bowl, and he also bet on Washington to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
“It’s hard to overstate how exciting this moment is,” said Maryland Lottery and Gaming director John Martin. “We couldn’t be happier to see sports wagering get started. It’s a new form of entertainment that we know Marylanders will enjoy, but more importantly, it’s delivering a new stream of revenue for public education in the state. We’re especially proud of that.”
A FanDuel Sportsbook at Live! Casino and Hotel in Hanover will open today, along with a Caesars Sportsbook at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore. Maryland Lottery and Gaming has also awarded licenses to Riverboat on the Potomac, which will host PointsBet, and Long Shot’s, which has not yet announced a partner. Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino and TwinSpires Sportsbook at Ocean Downs Racetrack are also gearing up to launch. Online sports wagering is not expected to begin in Maryland until fall 2022.
Federal Court Pulls the Plug on Florida Sports Betting
The Seminole Tribe finally took its Hard Rock Sportsbook in Florida offline this week after failing in an appeal. Last month, a federal judge overturned Florida’s decision to award the Seminole Tribe the exclusive rights to run online sports betting in the state. District Judge Dabney Friedrich decided that it violated the state constitution and the federal Indian Gaming Regulation Act.
The tribe continued to operate the Hard Rock Sportsbook app in Florida after mounting an appeal. However, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld Judge Friedrich’s decision this week. “Due to yesterday’s appellate court decision, the Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app will temporarily suspend accepting new bets and deposits,” the Seminole Tribe Tweeted. “Player information and account funds are safe and secure, and the app will remain online for easy withdrawals via all payment methods.”