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Sports betting in Illinois begins the year with a lull

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(The Center Square) – Sports betting in Illinois in January dipped a bit from the month earlier.

According to the Illinois Gaming Board, the total sports betting handle in January was down just over 2% compared to December, but sportsbooks and state coffers were up with over 5% increases across the board for revenue and taxes.

Even though numbers were slightly down, Illinois sports betting totaled nearly $1.3 billion and trailed only New York and New Jersey. Illinois filled its coffers with nearly $20.3 million in tax revenue while Cook County received $1.36 million.

Lou Monaco, analyst with IllinoisBet.com, said after the college basketball championship this weekend, not much action will be going on for several months.

“The Masters starts that following Thursday and right after that you’re going to start to see a little bit of a decline across the next several months because you’re not going to have a lot of sporting events going on that are going to be big for bettors,” Monaco said.

Monaco thinks February and March numbers will be much improved because of college basketball and the biggest sporting event of the year.

“The market will undoubtedly see an increase in February, which continues to be a strong performing month for sportsbooks, with a fully loaded sports calendar for bettors along with the biggest betting day of the year, the Super Bowl,” said Monaco.

FanDuel was the most profitable sports betting app with nearly $60 million in winnings. DraftKings was second, followed by ESPN Bet, which was a distant third.

Monaco said a proposal to raise the gambling tax in Illinois from 15% to 35% could make a small impact, but it could be worse.

“New York and New Hampshire have the highest tax rates in the nation at 51%, and New York is the number one betting state in the country,” said Monaco.