HomeIllinois Sports Betting NewsHow Will the Fighting Illini’s Sweet Sixteen March Madness Run Affect Sports Betting in Illinois?

How Will the Fighting Illini’s Sweet Sixteen March Madness Run Affect Sports Betting in Illinois?

One trend that should be extremely clear for Illinois and the other states with legalized gambling is the significance of the month of March. Due to the NCAA's massive, 68-team single-elimination tournament spectacle, sportsbooks across the nation experience a notable jump in bets placed come March.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

For example, the Illinois Gaming Board reported that the state’s operators collected $2.9 million in wagers on college sports in February 2023. In that same month, Illinois sportsbooks handled over $220 million in college sports bets.

The following month, those numbers jumped up to nearly $6 million and $335 million respectively. Clearly, March brought a sizable influx of bettors and wagers for the state of Illinois, and that trend has been consistent across all markets in the United States.

Not only does March bring in more bettors on college sports, but it also raises sports gambling activity overall. February 2023 saw Illinois sportsbooks collecting over $22.7 million in wagers and handling over $645 million on professional sports. Those figures climbed to nearly $26 million in bets and over $735 million handled in March 2023.

While March Madness is the main event that brings bettors to the table in early Spring, many of those new patrons will take the time to place wagers on professional sports and other events as well while they’re at it. That makes March a booming month across the sports betting industry, not just for college basketball.

The Fighting Illini Could Greatly Affect Sports Betting Numbers in Illinois

One other factor that can significantly affect a state’s participation in March Madness betting is the success of their hometown teams. The state of Illinois has been well-represented by the University of Illinois’s Fighting Illini, who entered the tournament as a three-seed in the East quadrant and have handled business en route to the Sweet Sixteen.

Heading into the tournament, the Fighting Illini were given +3000 odds to win the whole thing. Now that they’ve made it to the Sweet Sixteen… FanDuel has them listed as +3200 to walk away as the champions. The state of Illinois may be rallying behind their Fighting Illini, but the lines show that the nation hasn’t looked kindly on Illinois as serious contenders, despite their Sweet Sixteen run.

FanDuel currently has them tagged with worse odds than Gonzaga and Duke, both of whom came into the tournament ranked lower than Illinois. When it’s all said and done, it’ll be interesting to see if the Fighting Illini’s run in the tournament will wind up having a significant effect on Illinois’s betting numbers. Due to Illinois law, bettors can only cast wagers on in-state colleges in person, as online betting on Illinois schools is barred.

They’ll take on the Iowa State Cyclones on Thursday, March 28, so there’s still time for the residents of Illinois to wager on the side of their Fighting Illini.