The Illinois Gaming Board is always one of the last to announce sports betting numbers, and that announcement was finally made in March. Illinois sports betting handle nearly hit $600 million in February, and it helped push the entire U.S. industry to a new record.
Total sports betting handle in the U.S. went over the $4 billion mark for the first time in history, and it shattered that goal. The total sports betting handle in the U.S. for February checked in at $4.375 billion.
February was the fourth straight month that the entire U.S. industry set a new record, and all four of those months were over the $3.2 billion mark. The $5 billion mark is within reach, but it’s unclear how soon the industry will be able to get to that point.
January saw the launch of sports betting in Virginia, and Michigan officially launched online betting options. These two states helped boost the numbers, but the other big markets posted some impressive totals as well.
New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Illinois remain the four biggest sports betting markets in the U.S., but that order could change in 2021. Illinois is now a serious threat to overtake both Pennsylvania and Nevada, while New Jersey is looking to go over $1 billion in one of the upcoming months.
States such as Maryland, South Dakota, and Louisiana are all expected to launch sports betting at some point this year, while other states hope to legalize the industry. 2021 will continue to be a record-setting year for the U.S. sports betting industry, especially when football resumes.
February Numbers Falling
Not all states have reported February sports betting numbers yet, but there is already a disturbing trend emerging. It appears that the total sports betting handle in February will fall well short of the record total in January, and several factors are at play.
Total sports betting handle in New Jersey during February was just $743 million, falling well short of the $958 million in January. Indiana also saw a decrease of nearly $75 million in February, but that came as both Illinois and Michigan were stealing business from the Hoosier State.
The biggest reason that some states are reporting a decrease in February sports betting handle is that this is a shorter month. With just 28 days compared to 31 in January, states are missing out on three full days of potential betting.
Another reason for a decrease in the number of bets is that the NFL season came to a close with the Super Bowl on February 7. Football is the most popular sport to bet on in the U.S., and sportsbooks are missing out on that handle and revenue.
March should provide some relief to sportsbooks as the NCAA Tournament will kick off this week. March Madness is the second biggest sporting event each year, and bettors are expected to flock to retail and online sportsbooks to get in on the betting action.