PlayUSA Rewind: Illinois Sports Betting Handle Continues To Impress

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on December 23, 2020 - Last Updated on February 19, 2021

This is the final rewind before the holiday festivities. Hopefully, everyone has a plethora of wine at the ready, all of their Christmas shopping complete and itching to absorb more gambling content.

This week, Illinois sports betting continues to climb, BetRivers prepares to launch some online casinos, and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has words about sports betting.

On the rewind:

Illinois sports betting ranks 4th

Everyone knew IL sports betting would be good, we just didn’t know how good. Already the state has a vice grip on the No. 4 spot ranking just behind New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. For October, the state recorded $434.6 million in betting handle, up from the $305.2 million it recorded in September.

Tax revenue reached $6.4 million for the state and sportsbook reeled in a profit of $42.2 million.

With the second round of casino closures hitting the state, the extension of remote registration has been a positive for the state’s five online operators — DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, PointsBet, and BetRivers.

Others probably joining the market in 2021 will be BetMGM, Unibet and the new sports betting powerhouse, the Barstool Sportsbook.

The takeaway: Illinois is slowly becoming the sports betting force experts (and this writer) thought it would be. In terms of population, the state is on par with Pennsylvania and could overtake the No. 3 spot by next year. As more operators enter the state, there still is a chance Illinois could become the next gambling mecca.

BetRivers eyes online casino launch in West Virginia

The third West Virginia online casino will be – drum roll – BetRivers! That is once everything becomes official.

In a deal, Rush Street Interactive announced a partnership with Century Casinos that will bring online casinos by way of the Mountaineer Casino.

This is good news for BetRivers, which already services both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets.

Additionally, the market is fairly untapped with only DraftKings Casino and BetMGM Casino operating in the state.

The takeaway: BetRivers has already established itself as a successful online casino and sports betting operator. Online casino gaming is slowly picking up so it’s a good move on their end to get in while the market is fresh and unsaturated. Soak up those warm gambling dollars while they still can.

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New York governor again makes sports betting pitch

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo thinks NY sports betting could help the state raise new revenue.

You probably have because in 2019 during his State of State speech, Cuomo intended to make sports betting part of his $170 billion budget package.

To be fair, NY does have retail sports betting at its commercial and tribal casinos. However, online sports betting is not available – which means those precious tax dollars floating around Manhattan are being sucked away through the Lincoln Tunnel into New Jersey.

Right now the Empire State is a mess. Half the experts, Cuomo included, believe a constitutional amendment is needed in order to legalize online wagering and the other half believe that’s bologna.

In a recent COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo mentioned that online sports betting could be a way to generate new revenue.

“Are there other ways to get revenue? How about marijuana? How about sports betting?” he said.

The takeaway: Some believe Cumo has been the biggest roadblock to mobile sports betting. This writer believes that honor is bestowed upon House Speaker Carl Heastie. If a bill needs to be passed, it’s Heastie’s job to call it to the floor. But perhaps there is someone telling him not to? Either way, experts see this as a sign that mobile sports betting could be on the horizon.

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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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