DraftKings Wants Into Illinois Market

The state of Illinois has placed strict laws to keep up a pair of leaders in the Daily Fantasy Sports market, and they have done the same in the sports betting industry. Despite this attempt, FanDuel has managed to make its way into the market, and DraftKings is looking to do the same.

Illinois managed to legalize sports betting in the summer of 2019, but it took them until March to launch the industry. Sports betting kicked off on March 9, but the shutdown of live sports started on March 12, leaving Illinois out in the cold.

At the time of the shutdown, there were just three casinos that had been given a sports betting license, but a few more have been added since then. During this shutdown, several other companies have been trying to break into the market, and one of them is DraftKings.

Illinois state lawmakers placed both DraftKings and FanDuel in the penalty box in hopes of allowing local retailers a chance to get a head start. These companies were supposed to be shut out for at least 18 months, but they have found a way to get around the issue.

The Illinois Gaming Board website recently noted that DraftKings has applied for a management services license to provide sports betting. This application was submitted on April 28, but the website does not list what casino or property DraftKings is hoping to partner with.

FanDuel was also looking to go around the waiting period set forth by Illinois lawmakers, and they have looked into purchasing Fairmount Racetrack. DraftKings does not have the opportunity to purchase another location, but operating a retail sportsbook is a possibility.

Jumer’s Rock Island, Harrah’s Joliet, and Casino Queen in East St. Louis will likely be the three options that are explored by DraftKings. Jumer’s is owned by Delaware North, which is tied to DraftKings in other states.

Harrah’s Joliet is owned by Caesars Entertainment, and they have already formed a partnership with DraftKings. DraftKings provides the company with online gaming products as well as information. The Casino Queen in East St. Louis is an employee-owned company, and they have yet to disclose who their online sports betting partners will be.

Wanting Online

The number one reason that DraftKings is looking to enter the market in Illinois so quickly is to offer online or mobile sports betting. Online only operators would be shut out at least 18 months, but this would allow DraftKings the opportunity to offer online betting right away.

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and Argosy Casino in Alton both launched sports betting before the shut down of live sports throughout the country. With the casinos currently being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the entire sports betting industry has been shut down.

Illinois will allow mobile sports wagering once sports resume, but their current laws make it impossible for casinos to offer any betting. Customers must sign up and register for an account in person before they are allowed to bet online.

Rivers Casino and Argosy Casino are supposed to get their official sports betting licenses on June 11, and that would start the clock for online-only operators in Illinois. It will also start the clock for when bettors can begin placing online bets without registering at a casino.

Even though both DraftKings and FanDuel are technically in the “penalty box” in Illinois, many lawmakers are hoping that they launch in the state. They are two of the leaders in sports betting in the US and would provide Illinois with plenty of extra revenue. It will be interesting to see casino DraftKings decides to partner with.

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Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.