Illinois Breaks Sports Betting Record With $286M Wagered on March Madness

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:

  • Sports bettors legally wagered a record $278.4 million during the men’s tournament this year

  • This comes as Illinois finally begins allowing remote registrations

  • 96% of all bets placed during this period were done so online

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Just days after Gambling911.com reported that sports betting in Illinois had slowed during the month of February, we are learning that the state crushed previous records with betting on March Madness.

This comes as an even bigger surprise considering residents are prohibited from wagering on in-state teams that made it into the tournament including the Fighting Illini and Ramblers.

In Illinois, sports bettors legally wagered a record $278.4 million during the men’s tournament this year, according to revenue totals released Tuesday by the Illinois Gaming Board. The women’s basketball tournament added another $7.8 million in wagers.

Since the February numbers were registered, Illinois began allowing remote registrations last month to coincide with March Madness.  Previously, individuals were required to set up accounts in person at retail establishments such as casinos.  That change helped boost betting numbers by a whopping 43%.

The $286 million in total March Madness bets netted Illinois sportsbooks $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, according to the gaming board.

By comparison, Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13 generated about $61 million in bets and $9.5 million in adjusted gross receipts at Illinois sportsbooks, according to the gaming board.

Joe Boozell, lead analyst for gaming industry website PlayIllinois.com, told the Associated Press that the $286 million wagered for March Madness in Illinois is up from about $200 million last year.  He noted that Illinois bettors performed better on March Madness compared to 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 said. “It means that the sportsbooks didn’t do as well against the public during March Madness as they usually do.”

Illinois is currently among the top 5 sports betting markets in North America.  Ontario, Canada began taking sports bets last week to surpass Pennsylvania as the second largest market in the mobile sports gambling sector after only New York.  Illinois currently ranks as the 4th largest followed by Michigan. 

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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