The Kansas Jayhawks staged the biggest comeback in NCAA men’s basketball history, winning the national championship over North Carolina. However, there’s a new record-setter in town on March Madness.
According to revenue totals released by the Illinois Gaming Board, in Illinois sports bettors legally wagered a record of $278.4 million during the men’s tournament this year. Another $7.8 million in wagers can be added if you also take into consideration the women’s basketball tournament.
Most of the best were placed online, nearly 96% of them to be exact. This was reinforced by a change in Illinois law that allowed online sportsbooks to compete across the state for new customers. The $286 million in total March Madness bets amounted to Illinois sportsbooks of $14.3 million in adjusted gross receipts, the money kept after winnings are paid out, with the state receiving about $2.1 million in tax revenue. This is all according to the Gaming Board.
Illinois online casinos and sports betting, and the commercial casino industry in general has seen significant growth over the last few decades. This is thanks to the ongoing legalization of gambling-related activities and the growth of the economy in many parts of the world, even in the US. In fact, online casinos in a number of US states, such as the top WV online casinos, have been entering the market with casinos constantly expanding to new markets and generating record-breaking revenue figures.
Lead analyst for gaming industry website PlayIllinois.com, Joe Boozell claims that the $286 million wagered for March Madness in Illinois has increased from about $200 million last year. This is a sign that the state is becoming incredibly popular for sports betting. The gaming numbers also showed that Illinois bettors did better on March Madness than on the Super Bowl, with the sportsbooks keeping only about 5% of the wagers in winnings. ‘Normally in Illinois, we see that number closer to 10%,’ Boozell stated. ‘It means that the sportsbooks didn’t do as well against the public during March Madness as they usually do.’
While this is only the second time of March Madness with legal betting in Illinois, the 43% increase in the total amount wagered was helped by a change in the state’s sports wagering act, which removed the in-person registration requirement. While the state of Illinois approved sports betting in 2019, customers still needed to sign up at a physical sportsbook to engage in betting online.
Illinois now has nine operating retail sportsbooks including FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM, the three largest online sportsbooks in the U.S. The state’s first sportsbook opened in March 2020 at Rivers Casino Des Plaines but it was closed within days due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Gov. J>B Pritzker removed the in-person registration requirement for 10 months during the pandemic before eliminating permanently it on March 5th.
For the first time this year, Illinois bettors were permitted to wager on Illinois college teams in person at four sportsbooks.
Analysts have predicted that this change in the law would boost Illinois to a record of $1 billion in legal sports bets in March. The totals for the month have yet to be released by the state. Boozell claims ‘We should see a $1 billion month by the end of 2022, and this solidifies the idea that Illinois can be the No. 2 sports betting market in the U.S. behind New York.’