Barstool Sportsbook Launches in Illinois, January Statewide Wagers Hit $581M

Posted on: March 13, 2021, 10:43h. 

Last updated on: March 14, 2021, 10:28h.

Illinois has quickly established itself as one of the top sports betting states in the country, and now a new competitor is jumping into the market.

Illinois sports betting
Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy appears in a video for his online sports media company. Penn National Gaming purchased a stake in the company and is leveraging the brand popular with Millennial and Gen Z sports fans to build a national sports betting operation that can compete with the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings. (Image: Barstool Sports/YouTube)

The Illinois Gaming Board reported its January handle this past week. That ended up being a record $581.6 million total. That’s nearly a $90 million increase from December, when bettors wagered $491.7 million.

And almost all of that came from online bettors in January, as $575.2 million was wagered through the state’s five licensed mobile applications.

There’s now a sixth one available in the Land of Lincoln. On Thursday, Barstool Sportsbook made its highly anticipated debut.

Sports Betting Revenues More Than Double

Illinois’ January handle still ranks fourth in the nation, but it’s catching up on both Pennsylvania and Nevada. Pennsylvania’s handle was $615.3 million, while Nevada reported $646.7 million.

Of the Illinois $581.6 million, sportsbooks claimed revenues of $49.4 million. That’s up from the $23.9 million in winnings reported in December.

The state also received $7.2 million in taxes for the month.

DraftKings remained the No. 1 sportsbook in the state, accepting $244.2 million in wagers. Of those, $243.5 million came through its app. FanDuel ranked second, with all but nearly $135,000 of its $173.3 million in handle coming online.

BetRivers posted an all-sources handle of $112.7 million. Its retail sportsbook at Rivers Des Plaines, which opened a year ago, took in $3.7 million of that. The casino was the only one to have a brick-and-mortar sportsbook report a handle of more than $1 million.

In January, the IGB reported that bettors placed more than 17.6 million wagers, either online or at a sportsbook. The average wager was slightly more than $33.

Barstool Now in Illinois

Penn National Gaming launched Barstool this week in anticipation of next week’s NCAA Tournament, which is one of the most popular events for sports bettors in the country.

While BetRivers, DraftKings, and FanDuel all enjoyed head starts, Penn National is taking stock in Barstool’s built-in audience in hopes it will compete with those three on an immediate basis.

In a press release this past week, Jay Snowden, Penn National’s CEO, noted the sports media brand has had a presence in Chicago and across Illinois for nearly a decade. Nationally, the online outlet generates 54 million unique visitors each month. Its target audience is Millennial and Generation Z sports fans.

As the only gaming operator with a fully integrated sports media and entertainment partner, our customers in Illinois will now be able to engage with these Barstool personalities through the online Barstool Sportsbook and enjoy their unique take on Chicago sports,” Snowden said.

Illinois marks the third state for Barstool. It’s currently live in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The sportsbook uses a Kambi platform, with White Hat Gaming providing the risk management solution.

Through that partnership, Snowden said Penn National’s Barstool Sportsbook is “attracting new and existing Penn National customers, as evidenced by our performance to date in Michigan and Pennsylvania. We are eager to leverage the building momentum for the Barstool Sportsbook app with our launch in Illinois and the additional launches we have planned for 2021.”