The football odds betting board at a Las Vegas casino sportsbook. credit: Brian P. Gielczyk

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CHICAGO – Sports betting in Illinois roared back to life in September after a pedestrian summer and pushed the nationwide handle past $5 billion for the month.

It is the first time in history the country has reached that number.

Illinois sportsbooks reported just over $596 million in handle, good for the second-best month ever behind last March.

It would be hard to find a state where football is not king in September, and Illinois is no exception. Football accounted for over $230 million in handle.

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“You also gets sports like NBA and college basketball, which may not be as popular to bet on as the NFL and college football but there are so many games and the volume ends up adding to the handle of each state every month including Illinois,” said Joe Boozell, lead analyst for

Sports betting revenue in Illinois hit $44.6 million for a 7.5% hold. Operators paid $6.5 million in state and local taxes.

Football was expected to bring records in many of the 28 states and Washington D.C. that allowed legal sports betting in some form in September, including Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Wyoming, which all launched that month.

Illinois had the third-largest betting handle in the country in September, behind only New Jersey and Nevada.

If Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs off, mobile sports betting registration will resume March 5. Pritzker suspended in-person registration for months during the COVID-19 pandemic but ended that suspension in April.

“Because of March Madness and also people being able to register online once again, I think March will easily set a state record here in Illinois,” Boozell said.

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