Illinois sports betting declines for second month, remains No. 2 in nation

Illinois sports wagering declined for the second month in a row, but those placing bets in the state have a greater appetite than all but one other state.

Since it’s been implemented, legal sports betting has generated over $53.8 million in taxes for the state of Illinois. An industry analyst expects gambling to develop further in the years ahead.

PlayIllinois.com writer Joe Boozell says about $507 million was spent on sports bets in May in Illinois.

“That was the No. 2 mark in the country, only behind New Jersey, ahead of states like Nevada and Pennsylvania, and obviously Nevada stands out as a sort of gambling mecca,” Boozell told WMAY. “So that was sort of the good news from the report.”

“The bad news is that was a decline for the second straight month,” Boozell said.

In April, the total bets placed was $537.2 million.

Boozell said that’s to be expected with a slower sports season. But there’s another factor at play that kicked in this past April.

“We think in-person registration, that means people have to go to a sportsbook or a racino to register for an account, that’s probably stunted some growth,” Boozell said. “That wasn’t the case for about seven straight months during the worst of COVID.”

Sports betting was approved before the COVID-19 pandemic with a slated start in late 2020. Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued dozens of executive orders during the pandemic, including allowing remote registration for sports bets. He rescinded that order in April.

Boozell said at the pace of more than $500 million in total bets a month, Illinois’ taxes generates around $5 million to $6 million a month.

“It’s nothing to scoff at necessarily, but it’s also not a massive driver like some of these other fields,” Boozell said.

The Sports Wagering Fund had nearly $43 million generated from taxes. Funds are to be transferred into the Capital Projects Fund.

But, Boozell said there could be more revenue for the state if gambling is expanded. One area in the short term he said is likely is for the state to allow betting on collegiate teams in Illinois.

“In the long term, I think, online casinos are a big thing that we’re watching in playing online blackjack, roulette, etc., just on your phone by downloading it,” he said. “There’s definitely legislative momentum in Illinois.”

Some groups, like Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, oppose expanding gambling online. The group says it could harm younger people.

This article was originally posted on Illinois sports betting declines for second month, remains No. 2 in nation

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