Illinois Casinos Continue to Apply for Sports Betting Licensing

As state after state in the US legalizes sports betting, we begin to see new markets open up to offer the wagering services. Illinois was one of the latest states to legalize the industry and already several casinos and other gaming venues are lining up to apply for licensing. Just a few days ago, three casinos in the state and a racetrack applied, which brings the total number of potential operators to seven.

New Applicants

The Hollywood Casino in Aurora and the one in Joliet applied for sports betting licensing along with the Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino. They were approved for temporary licensing by the state Gaming Board late last week. They along with the Rivers Casino, Grand Victoria Casino and the Argosy Casino Alton are all approved for temporary operations.

The Fairmount Park racetrack also applied but they have yet to be approved for a temporary permit. With temporary licensing, an operator can go ahead and get operations ready before the full go-ahead is provided.

Governor J.B. Pritzker approved sports betting last summer as part of a larger gambling expansion package. The Governor expects that sports betting will be ready in time for the NCAA March Madness tournament. This would be perfect timing as March Madness is one of the most popular betting events of the year.

So far, only the Alton casino has announced a launch by March Madness. For Rivers Casino, officials of the venue have stated that they hope to be up and running by the launch of the tournament which is March 17th. If sports betting does launch, players will not be able to place wagers on Illinois college teams.

Illinois Sports Betting Operations

When the sports betting industry was approved for Illinois, it was announced that all ten of the casinos in the state are eligible to apply for licensing. Three horse racing tracks can also apply. Up to seven large sports venues can also offer betting services.

On top of the retail options, lawmakers approved mobile betting as well. It is unclear when mobile options will begin but it can be expected that the online casinos will see the bulk of player betting from such devices as smartphones and tablets.

In neighboring Indiana, the state has done quite well with mobile sports betting applications. Since launching in September, the state has seen over $500 million in sports bets placed. While this would be huge revenues for Illinois, state law prohibits such operators like FanDuel and DraftKings from applying for licensing until a year has passed.

The online betting companies would have an upper hand due to their experience. This law allows the casinos and other gaming venues to gain a strong following of players before the sports betting giants are in the mix.

We shall see over the coming weeks if the sports betting industry gets started in Illinois and just who is ready to begin offering betting services. Hopefully a few operators can get going later on this month.


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.