How the NFL’s return can affect sports betting in Illinois

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With the NFL season officially kicking off this past week, football is all the way back in the United States, and so is sports betting. Football season is one of the most important influences on sports betting numbers in all of the states in the country where gambling has been legalized, and Illinois is no exception to this tried and true trend. 

How sports betting has fared in Illinois

One of the largest sports betting markets in the U.S., Illinois has become a staple state for sportsbooks operating in the country. Featuring the city of Chicago, which boasts a team in all four major sports in America, residents of Illinois have always felt a strong connection to athletics, and, more recently, betting on their home teams. 

While the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Blackhawks have all had more recent success in their respective leagues than the Chicago Bears, none of those teams have quite the grip on the state that the Bears and the NFL have. 

Since sports betting was officially legalized in Illinois, back in March of 2020, the market has only grown exponentially within the state. Through three and a half years, sportsbooks in Illinois have handled over $24 billion. 

This has resulted in those operators generating nearly $2 billion in revenue. It’s no secret that there is a significant population of citizens willing and eager to wager their hard-earned money on sports, especially when there are so many Illinois sportsbook promos for new players available to boost their bankroll.

While it’s clearly been a profitable venture for all of the sportsbooks that have opened operations in Illinois, it’s also been a successful gambit for the state itself. From this new market, the state has generated over $312 million in tax revenue, adding a new, highly lucrative source of income for the government that can be rerouted for social services. 

Summer sports betting trends in Illinois

With the industry still growing rapidly in Illinois, the state should only see more and more revenue over time. Despite having grown into a more mature market now, sportsbooks are still seeing significant jumps in both handle and revenue year over year. For example, in June of 2022, operators handled $628.5 million. In June of this year, sportsbooks in Illinois handled over $665.8 million, marking a growth of nearly six percent. Revenue in that same time span went from $40.98 million to $52.29 million, a jump of almost 28 percent. 

June is markedly one of the slower months for sports betting in the United States, with the NFL in the midst of its offseason and the NBA coming to a conclusion. Once July hits and two of the country’s three most popular sports are on furlough, both handles and revenue take a significant hit for operators. In 2022, Illinois sportsbooks dropped nearly 18 percent. 

NFL football greatly affects sports betting in Illinois

But, the return of football season sparks a renewal in interest in sports betting in America, and Illinois is a perfect example of this. From July 2022 to September 2022, the handle for Illinois sportsbooks climbed over nine percent, and the revenue rose by over 47 percent. 

There’s no reason that this trend won’t continue in 2023, even with the consistent year-over-year growth for the slow months of the summer. Operators are extremely aware of this correlation and try their hardest to capitalize on the increased interest in sports betting come September. Many sportsbooks will offer highly enticing bonuses to try to entice new bettors or draw back returning ones. 

For example, BetMGM is currently running a promo that gives bettors $200 in bonus cash if they cast a $10 wager. With NFL football bringing a natural spike in wagers, the iron is hot for sportsbooks to strike, offering appealing bonuses that can be spread around and drawing in potential repeat users. 

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