Illinois sportsbooks were probably too excited to see the final full month of in-person registration end to fret about the seasonal February dip.
Betting handle hit $679.4 million in February, according to the state report released Thursday. That is down 21.7% from January‘s record handle but up 33.3% over last February.
Hold was 5.2% for $35.6 million in sports betting revenue, which was slightly up from last year but down 40% from January. Sports betting in Illinois generated nearly $5.8 million in state and local taxes.
Illinois sportsbooks top $10 billion bet
It took 22 months for Illinois sports betting to pass $10 billion in handle, and it is not clear if the pandemic helped or hurt that timeline.
Retail Illinois sportsbooks launched briefly in March 2020 before much of the US shut down from the coronavirus pandemic. That led to no betting for the rest of March through May since Illinois betting law required in-person registration to start the market.
But the pandemic also led Gov. JB Pritzker to issue an emergency order allowing remote registration for sportsbook accounts. That started in June and ran mostly uninterrupted through March 2021. That was supposed to remain in place until the first mobile-only sports betting license was issued but legislation passed late last year set March 5 as the start of remote registration.
Is a big bump in betting expected?
Between remote registration and March Madness betting, March’s totals should almost certainly be higher than February’s.
That said, remote registration probably will not have as drastic as an impact on Illinois as it had in other states that switched from in-person registration. Bettors in Illinois had an entire NFL season with a bit of time before and after to create whatever accounts they wanted before Pritzker stopped renewing the emergency order.
There are some operators that should benefit, though.
BetMGM made its Illinois debut on March 5, the same day remote registration went live. Barstool Sportsbook was live for under a month before the order ended last April. Caesars Sportsbook launched its Liberty platform in the state for a “substantial upgrade” over its previous version.