Illinois Eclipses New Jersey as the Second-Largest US Sports Betting Market

  • 94% of sports bets were placed online in Illinois in September
  • Illinois recently began allowing gamblers to register online 
  • Industry experts expect Illinois to pursue online casino games
  • Nearby Ohio is ready to launch its sports betting market on January 1
Wrigley Field
Illinois is now the second-biggest sports betting market in America behind only New York. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

One step closer to the top

Illinois officially usurped New Jersey as the country’s second-largest sports betting market during August, according to gross gaming revenues.

9% rise in July revenues and a staggering 41% increase from August 2021

Figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board showed a 9% rise from July revenues and a staggering 41% increase from August 2021. New York remained atop the list of US sports betting markets.

As Illinois continues to climb the charts, the midwest betting scene is ready to add another key figure, Ohio, to the mix on January 1, 2023.

Illinois sports betting is a hit

It is no secret that sports betting is the latest entertainment fad to sweep the nation, but while major states such as California, Florida, and Texas are all without sports betting, Illinois has had the chance to create one of the most successful betting markets in the country. 

also passed $1bn in total revenue in August

On top of becoming the country’s second-largest provider of sports betting, Illinois also passed $1bn in total revenue in August just 29 months after the market launched. A whopping 94% of bets were placed online, and only 6% were made at retail locations.

Part of Illinois’ extreme recent growth could be a change in legislation that allowed bettors to register with sportsbooks online, whereas before they had to make a trip to a retail location. The result has been wider acceptance and participation in sports betting, and ultimately, increased revenue.

“People are not willing to drive to a casino or retail sportsbook, in order to sign up for a sports betting account,” said Joe Boozell of playillinois.com after the change was announced. “This change will allow Illinois to reach its full potential as a sports betting state.”

Changes in and around the state

Despite the resounding success of Illinois sports betting, further growth is becoming increasingly likely. 

infrastructure and momentum to legalize online casino games

Several industry experts speaking at the East Coast Gaming Congress last month said that the exploding sports betting market has given Illinois the infrastructure and momentum to legalize online casino games.

Only six states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Delaware, and Connecticut – have legalized online casino gaming, compared to 36 that have signed off on legal sports betting. From that standpoint, the road ahead is still filled with potholes.

Richard Schwartz, the CEO of casino company Rush Street Interactive, said that states with established sports betting markets would have an easier time getting online casinos up and running than other states.

“They already have regulators in place,” he said. “They have servers in place. It’s quicker to start up a casino addition.”

While those ideas are being tossed around, one of Illinois’ neighbors in the midwest, Ohio, is readying to launch its sports betting market. The Buckeye State ushered in legislation with Governor Mike DeWine in December 2021, but has had a year-plus layover. Ohio sportsbooks are already allowing prospective players to create accounts and download mobile apps, but no bets can be placed until New Year’s Day.