Illinois Sportsbooks Generate $92M in April, Poised to Overtake New Jersey in National Rankings

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Illinois sportsbooks amassed nearly $92 million in adjusted gross sports betting revenue for April 2024, according to data released by the Illinois Gaming Board on Thursday. This month saw the state’s betting handle exceed $1 billion for the eighth consecutive time.

This April’s operator winnings saw a 2.7% rise from April 2023, despite a substantial 22.8% increase in handle to $1.1 billion. The hold rate last year was just under 10%, compared to this year’s 8.3% win rate. The handle experienced a 12.7% drop from March’s $1.26 billion, while revenue fell by 7.5%.

Illinois joined New Jersey, New York, and Nevada as the fourth state to surpass $35 billion in handle since the post-PASPA era began, according to SportsHandle. April marked the 13th occasion that the Prairie State’s monthly wagers topped $1 billion, ranking it third behind New York (26) and New Jersey (19).

With only Kentucky and Arizona yet to report their April figures, Illinois is poised to overtake New Jersey for the second spot nationally for the first time this year.

Tax Rate Set To Change

The state’s tax collection amounted to $13.8 million for April, bringing the year-to-date total to $61.5 million, $8.9 million ahead of last year’s pace. However, this year will see a change in tax policy. The current 15% rate will only be applicable until June. Starting July 1, Illinois will implement a progressive tax system with rates starting at 20% and capping at 40% for operators generating more than $200 million in annual revenue.

Illustrating the effect of the progressive tax rates using 2024 mobile operator revenue data, it’s clear that FanDuel and DraftKings dominate, accounting for over 90% of the nearly $49 million additional tax revenue for the state.

Both operators have quickly moved into the 35% tax bracket primarily due to parlay revenue. FanDuel’s $133.1 million in parlay winnings alone propels it into the 35% tier, while DraftKings, with $80.6 million, falls into the 30% bracket.

Given Illinois bettors’ strong preference for parlays — which amounted to $307.4 million in April, representing 27.8% of the handle but a significant 68.2% of the revenue — it’s plausible that both FanDuel and DraftKings will hit the $200 million revenue mark to trigger the maximum 40% tax rate relatively soon.

This increase may happen quicker than anticipated, especially with the betting volume expected to rise in August with the start of the NFL preseason and Week 0 of the college football season.

Another noteworthy aspect is BetRivers benefiting from an amendment that separates revenue from sports betting apps and physical venues for tax purposes. Rivers Casino, which holds the BetRivers license, generated $3.5 million in Des Plaines, pushing it close to the 25% tax rate threshold at $30 million.

Based on the revenue figures for the first four months, Rivers would likely reach at least the 30% bracket if both revenue sources were combined, as it remains the top brick-and-mortar sportsbook in the state.

Other entities, such as Hollywood Casino in Aurora (license-holder for ESPN BET) and Par-A-Dice Casino (tied to BetMGM), would similarly likely ascend to higher tax brackets over a fiscal year.

Despite projections indicating an increase of $147 million in tax revenue — falling short of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s initial $200 million target set in February when proposing a tax hike to 35% — FanDuel and DraftKings are expected to generate enough revenue at the highest tiers to approach, if not surpass, the governor’s target. Year-to-date, the total handle has increased by 20.6% compared to 2023, with revenue up by 16.8%, reaching $410.1 million.

FanDuel Still In The Lead

In 2023, Illinois narrowly exceeded $1 billion in adjusted revenue, with its top two operators currently outperforming last year’s figures. DraftKings’ revenue has surged by 43.2% compared to the first four months of last year, while FanDuel’s winnings have seen an 11.1% rise.

FanDuel led the state’s eight sports betting apps in April revenue, recording $43.8 million with an 11.3% hold from $386.9 million in handle. Notably, nearly 80% of this revenue — $34.2 million — came from parlays, achieving an impressive 25.4% hold on $134.8 million in such wagers.

DraftKings topped in handle with $400.3 million, collecting $27.9 million in winnings with close to a 7% hold. Parlays contributed almost two-thirds of this total at $17.7 million, reflecting an 18.1% win rate.

BetRivers secured the third spot in both revenue and handle, achieving a 7.6% hold, with $5.4 million from $71.5 million.

ESPN BET, BetMGM, and Fanatics Sportsbook followed closely, with ESPN BET leading at $3.7 million in revenue with a 7% hold rate. BetMGM posted nearly $3.7 million, edging out ESPN BET in handle with $55.1 million to ESPN BET’s $53.1 million.

Caesars reported $2.2 million with a 4.6% hold on $47.8 million in wagers, while Circa Sports narrowly gained $22,842 on $17.2 million in handle, resulting in a 0.1% hold.

Losses on Boxing, Great Revenue on Basketball and Baseball

Parlays generated $62.2 million in revenue for Illinois sportsbooks in April with an overall 20.3% hold. However, they faced losses in boxing and MMA, paying out nearly $4.9 million over $12.2 million in accepted bets.

Ryan Garcia’s upset of Devin Haney in a super lightweight boxing bout on April 20 resulted in significant losses for both FanDuel and DraftKings, with FanDuel losing $2.6 million and DraftKings nearly $1.9 million.

Basketball, the second-largest revenue source, brought in $13.7 million, though this was offset by a $768,800 loss at Argosy Casino Alton. The hold on basketball wagers was 4.3% against $319 million in handle.

Baseball, in its first full month, generated $6.5 million in winnings with a 3.2% hold from $204.5 million in bets. Tennis rounded out the top four sports for revenue, contributing $5.2 million with a 6.9% win rate from $80.3 million in handle.

No other sport reached $2 million in revenue, although hockey and soccer came close, falling short by $24,300 and $61,600 respectively.

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