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Post-PASPA Handle Surpasses $300 Billion With Illinois Report

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Nationwide handle for state-by-state sports wagering, which began in June 2018 following the U.S. Supreme Court striking down PASPA, surpassed $300 billion Tuesday when the Illinois Gaming Board reported a record handle of $1.38 billion for the month of November.

As more and more states have legalized sports betting to try and keep tax revenue within its borders, wagering has skyrocketed on a year-over-year basis. There were only seven states offering sports betting at the end of 2018, with a combined handle totaling $4.6 billion. Illinois’ handle pushed November’s wagering to an all-time monthly high of $13.5 billion from 29 of the 31 states taking action, while Arizona and Kentucky have yet to publish their respective reports to close out the month.

It was the third consecutive month Illinois posted a record handle, a stepladder that started in September with almost $1.08 billion before climbing to $1.16 billion in October. November’s figure was up 33.6% from the same month in 2022 and an 18.5% increase from this October. It was the eighth time in 14 months that Illinois bettors wagered more than $1 billion.

Despite the bumper handle, which also put Illinois over $10 billion for 2023, operators failed to capitalize on the increased action. Sportsbooks statewide finished with a 5.3% hold, the seventh-lowest in 43 months of betting, as they finished with $72.7 million in adjusted gross revenue. That was down 25% from November 2022 and 35.5% from October’s record $112.7 million.

That resulted in more than $10.9 million in state taxes, with Cook County — home to Chicago — claiming more than $761,000 from its 2% levy on revenue generated from wagers made within its borders. Illinois has reaped close to $131.1 million in state taxes from sports betting in the 2023 calendar year, which is running almost $24.2 million ahead of last year’s pace.

FanDuel tops $500M handle, ESPN makes waves

FanDuel became the first mobile app to surpass $500 million monthly handle in Illinois, as its $511.1 million in traditional wagers accepted would have ranked 14th nationally in November. But bettors kept the juggernaut largely in check — FanDuel’s 4.5% hold, which resulted in $23.2 million in winnings, was its third-lowest all-time in the Land of Lincoln and the worst since narrowly breaking even with a 0.04% win rate in September 2020.

The subpar month allowed DraftKings to swoop in and claim the revenue crown for November with $28.1 million. DraftKings had a hold of nearly 6.1%, as its $463.9 million handle was an all-time high for monthly action in Illinois and the third straight month with a high-water mark.

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ESPN BET made a notable impact in its Illinois debut, placing fourth among the state’s eight betting apps with $81.1 million handle and putting immediate pressure on BetRivers — which had handle just shy of $93.1 million — for third. The IGB does not break out promotional credits in its revenue reports, but ESPN BET’s handle in Illinois was the highest of the 10 states that have published figures to date.

The PENN Entertainment-backed book also had the highest hold among mobile operators at 9.4% to claim more than $7.5 million in revenue. That was also a high in the group of 10 states where ESPN BET figures are available. It was the second-best monthly hold among PENN’s licensees in Illinois, with predecessor Barstool Sportsbook posting a hold just shy of 11% during its March 2021 launch.

ESPN BET’s performance kept mainly in line with its win rates elsewhere, with the overall $53 million in revenue from both licensees crafting a 12.3% hold from $430.5 million worth of bets.

Circa Sports saw a solid uptick in action in its second full month in Illinois, with mobile handle up 28.6% to $12 million. It came out only $81,990 ahead to finish with a 0.7% hold, and that was also enough to cancel out October’s loss of $28,534.

Circa was not the only mobile book with a sub-1% hold, as Caesars Sportsbook had the low spot on the totem pole at 0.4%, keeping less than $286,000 from $75.2 million wagered. It was the second-best monthly handle for Caesars, behind only the $78.5 million in accepted wagers in March.

BetRivers had the second-best win rate at 6.4%, keeping close to $6 million. PointsBet rounded out the top five revenue spots with $3.2 million in winnings, and it edged out BetMGM for sixth in handle with $50.9 million. BetMGM finished just shy of $50 million handle, and its 4.3% hold resulted in more than $2.1 million in winnings.

Bettors limit parlay damage

Though the $44.9 million in overall operator winnings from parlays accounted for more than 60% of the total revenue, it can be argued that Illinois bettors toed the line well in November. PointsBet had the best parlay hold among the seven mobile operators offering such wagers at 13.2%, while BetMGM and Caesars were limited to 5.5% and 2.3%, respectively.

FanDuel still came out okay, though, claiming $21.4 million in winnings from $176.3 million wagered for a 12.15% hold. DraftKings was #2 in handle and revenue, keeping $13.6 million of the $125.1 million bet to craft a 10.9% win rate. ESPN BET edged out FanDuel for the #2 hold at 12.18% in claiming $3.2 million revenue from $26.6 million handle.

ESPN BET derived nearly one-third of its $80.3 million in completed events handle from parlay betting, following a tack similar to the one BetRivers charted in Illinois throughout 2023. The latter sportsbook was right behind ESPN BET in terms of parlay handle at $24.4 million and had a 10.2% win rate to reap nearly $2.5 million in winnings.

The overall hold on mobile parlay betting was 11.2% on $390.1 million handle, resulting in $43.5 million in revenue. The retail books fared little better, as their win rate was 11.3% in keeping almost $1.3 million of the $11.3 million in such bets placed.

Betting public shines in single-event betting

In addition to faring better than average on parlays, the Illinois public took it to the house on single-event plays. The statewide hold on those wagers was a meager 2.9% on more than $973.4 million handle. The house did claim nearly $10.4 million from winning football bets, but had only a 2.8% hold on $370.6 million in wagers.

It was even worse for basketball, where the 1.4% win rate from $393.6 million in action meant only $5.6 million stayed with operators. There were also enough winning baseball tickets cashed in November to create a seven-figure loss of $1.2 million from $6.9 million wagered.

Operators claimed a combined $8.6 million in revenue from tennis and soccer wagering, while hockey bets generated $2.2 million. The catch-all “other category” provided more than $2 million in revenue, while the house gave some back in golf as the public came out roughly $60,000 ahead on $2.2 million handle.

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