Illinoisans wagered $286 million on March Madness

Illinoisans wagered a cool $286.2 million on March Madness, according to state revenue figures released Tuesday.

That includes $278.4 million wagered on about two and a half weeks’ worth of games in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, and another $7.8 million bet on the women’s tourney, the Illinois Gaming Board reported. That’s the state agency that polices legal gambling in the state, including sports betting, which became a legitimate operation in Illinois two years ago.

The casino sportsbooks came out ahead by more than $14.3 million collectively on the college hoops action, but one saw its bracket bankroll go bust. The Hollywood Casino Aurora closed out the NCAA tourneys in the red by $6,795, Gaming Board records show.


But the overall casino win generated almost $2.2 million in Illinois tax revenue. Sportsbooks have to send 15% of their winnings to the state.

A tweak to state gambling law meant that this was the first time Illinois gamblers could legally wager on in-state college teams.

Officials say they didn’t track how much money was put on the Fighting Illini or Loyola Ramblers, but those bets on Illinois schools can only be placed in person at a casino. Almost $11.8 million was wagered in all at those so-called retail sportsbooks.

About $61 million was bet in Illinois on the Super Bowl, this year making $9.5 million for the books and $1.4 million for the state.

Illinois gamblers have now plunked down more than $10 billion on sports since the industry launched in March of 2020.