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Legal sports betting proves popular in Illinois

In its first year, legal sports betting in Illinois has proved to be popular.

Eric Noggle, state revenue analyst with the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, said people are spending as much as $12.9 million a day on sports wagers, both online and in-person.

In August 2021 alone, Illinoisans spent $400.4 million on sports wagers. Its popularity has catapulted Illinois into the top three of the 19 states where sports betting is legal, making Illinois a rival of the biggest sports betting states: New Jersey and Nevada.

However, sports betting is not the staggering revenue generator that people might think it would be when they see how much money people are betting.

“The huge numbers represent the handle,” Noggle said. “Then you have to take away the money that is collected. You have to pay out winners. What’s remaining is the adjusted gross receipts. You have your 15% flat tax on that amount.”

For fiscal year 2021, Noggle expects Illinois to collect $100 million in revenue from sports wagers, he said.

“That’s good. A hundred million dollars is a lot of money. Illinois has done pretty well in the sports wagering community,” Noggle said. “And in fiscal year 2022, we’ll see even bigger improvements. But in the whole scheme of things, the tax revenue from sports wagers is not a humongous amount when you compare that to other revenue streams.”

Sports betting has been a boost for Illinois’ struggling casinos, which were hard hit by shutdowns and hesitant gamblers who wanted to avoid crowds because of the COVID 19 pandemic, Noggle said. However, most sports bets, 95%, are made online rather than in person. Casinos only handled 5% of Illinois sports wagers in 2021.

The big gaming revenue generator for Illinois in the past year has been the increase in the popularity of video slot machines, Noggle stated.

“While sports wagering is doing well, what has seen the biggest increases in gaming revenues has been video gaming machines,” he said.

Experts in the industry had predicted that Illinois would top out at 20,000 total video slot machines across the state. The popularity of video gaming in Illinois has resulted in twice that number. Illinois now has 40,000 video slot machine terminals in the state, Noggle wrote in his annual 2021 report Wagering in Illinois.

This article was originally posted on Legal sports betting proves popular in Illinois

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