The state of Illinois has rolled out its sports betting industry extremely slowly, but things are starting to heat up. Last week, the Illinois Gaming Board met and granted temporary sports betting licenses to three potential operators.
PointsBet was the first sports betting operator to be granted a temporary license by the IGB last week, and it signaled that the board was reviewing other licenses. PointsBet is an Australian-based company, but it has launched its sportsbook in several states across the United States.
On Friday, both DraftKings and FanDuel were awarded their temporary operating permits, which could bring two of the biggest companies to the state of Illinois. All three operators are still a long way away from launching the retail or mobile sportsbooks, but it is a big step in the right direction.
DraftKings was able to enter the Illinois market by partnering with the Casino Queen in East St. Louis. DraftKings will offer retail sports betting at this location, and they could be the first company that is able to launch.
The Casino Queen received their owners license on June 11, which will give them the ability to offer sports betting. The IGB still has to give them the official go-ahead, but that could happen at any time.
PointsBet and FanDuel will be entering the market by partnering with a pair of racetracks in the state. PointsBet is set to partner with Hawthorne Park, and FanDuel will be partnering with Fairmount Park.
Both of these racetracks have applied for sports betting licenses, but that license has yet to be granted. Sports stadiums in Illinois can also apply for a sports betting license if they meet certain requirements, but none have applied for a license at this time.
Still Just One Mobile App Available
The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines was the first to offer retail sports betting on March 9. Rivers opened up their BetRivers Sportsbook at that time, but they were shut down just a few days later, thanks to the ongoing pandemic.
Governor JB Pritzker loosened some registration requirements during the pandemic, and it allowed Rivers to launch its BetRivers mobile app in June. BetRivers remains the only mobile sports betting option in the state at this time.
The Argosy Casino in Alton was scheduled to offer sports betting on March 16, but they were shut down before ever getting the chance to do so. Now that the casino is back up and running, they have joined Rivers Casino in accepting bets on sporting events.
The Argosy Casino has yet to launch a mobile app, and it’s unclear if that is even a part of their plans. These two locations are the only places in Illinois that offer retail sports betting, but that is expected to change before the end of 2020.
DraftKings, FanDuel Work Around Penalty Box
When the state of Illinois created their expanded gaming bill last June, they included language that would keep both DraftKings and FanDuel in a “penalty box” for 18 months. This decision stems from a long legal battle in which the state of Illinois claims that these two companies were “bad actors.”
The language included in that law kept any online-only operator from applying for a sports betting license for at least 18 months after the first bet was taken. Most lawmakers believed that these two companies would be kept out, but they have found a way around the issue.
Current law allows casinos and racetracks to partner with sports betting operators to offer sports betting. DraftKings and FanDuel were able to secure deals, which will give them access once their licenses are approved.