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So Illinois only finished 12th a recent index done by Best Life Online, well behind the most hated state in America, New Jersey.

As a Garden State citizen, I can speak for most people in the state: we love the hatred from our surrounding states and the rest of the country. Most of it is jealousy, of course.

But while Illinois might not want to take the honor of most hated from New Jersey, it might want to model itself after the Garden State in at least one aspect: sports betting.

New Jersey is the current king of sports betting, breaking records at every turn of the calendar from month to month. The latest monthly report, from September of 2020, showed that the Garden State shattered its best monthly gambling intake, with $748 million alone in September.

That is three-quarters of ONE BILLION. In one month.

That number broke the previous high of $668 million intake for one month.

Guess which state had that record?

Did you say New Jersey? That is correct. The Garden State brought in $668 million the month before, in August of 2020. New Jersey is currently at $3.3 billion intake for sports betting this year alone, which is a staggering number. More important than the intake, though, is the revenue for the state. With the New Jersey gaming industry taking in $323 million in revenue for September, the coffers of the state continue to swell.

So how can Illinois, which is the sixth most populous state in America (and has four million more people than New Jersey), follow in the footsteps of New Jersey, and more recently Pennsylvania?

Illinois only launched sports betting on March 9, 2020, which happened to be less than a week before the country started shutting down due to COVID-19. It takes some time to build a base, and the lack of sports to bet on over the late spring and early summer did not help the cause. But now, with the NFL and NCAA College Football in full swing, the numbers should come up. Do not underestimate the number of people betting on European soccer games as well: the numbers from some states show that the category of betting soccer is under has seen a huge rise, especially after it was the only thing on television and the various betting apps during the pandemic.

It may take some time, but Illinois could see similar numbers as New Jersey in sports betting and overall gaming revenue, at a time when it is really needed.

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For the University of Illinois football team, the 2020 Big Ten campaign did not get off to a very good start.

The Illini lost 45-7 to Wisconsin, gaining only eight first downs all game. Now, Illinois has a very tough Purdue team coming in off a stunning 24-20 win over Iowa.

PointsBet Illinois has the Illini as a seven-point underdog at home, after the line moved up from +5.5. This is a battle of contrasting numbers: Illinois is 6-3 against the spread in its last nine, while the Boilermakers are 8-1 against the spread. The over (58 for this game Saturday) has hit six of 10 for Purdue, while the under has hit in five of seven for the Illini.

If the offense struggles again for Illinois, Purdue should be able to cover the spread and move to 2-0.

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