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DraftKings Set to Enter the Illinois Market

Even though the state of Illinois did its best to keep DraftKings and FanDuel out of the sports betting market, both companies have found a loophole. DraftKings is set to enter the Illinois market through a deal with the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.

The announcement from DraftKings and the Casino Queen should give the sports betting company an edge over rival, FanDuel. DraftKings will still have to get approval from the Illinois Gaming Board, but they were able to gain entry into the state.

Online sports betting officially launched in Illinois just a few weeks ago, but adding DraftKings to the mix should create huge growth. DraftKings is one of the biggest sports betting operators in the United States, and they offer some terrific betting odds and options.

Initially, customers were required to sign up for a sports betting account at a licensed casino, but the coronavirus pandemic changed those rules. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued an executive order which allowed players to sign up at an online site through their mobile device.

This deal with the Casino Queen will allow DraftKings to offer retail sports betting on-site, but they will also be able to offer mobile sports betting as well. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but it was announced that it was a multi-year partnership.

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines was the first retail sports betting location in the state, and they were also the first to offer online betting. There are now seven casinos in the state that have been approved for a sports betting license, but only two of them are currently allowed to accept wagers.

Avoiding the Penalty Box

When Governor Pritzker signed an expanded gaming bill into law last June, both FanDuel and DraftKings were placed in the “Penalty Box.” This stems from a lawsuit filed against both companies and state lawmakers who believed that they were not acting in good faith by allowing Illinois residents to play DFS games on their site.

The state set an 18-month waiting period for online-only operators to apply for a sports betting license. This essentially meant that DraftKings and FanDuel would be shut out for 540 days, but they have found a way around the rule.

Along with having to wait at least 18 months before they could apply, online-only operators were also forced to pay a $20 million licensing fee. By partnering with the Casino Queen, DraftKings will not be forced to pay that fee, but they will have to pay for the Master Sports betting license.

It’s still unclear when DraftKings plans to launch their retail sportsbook at the Casino Queen, but it likely won’t take them long to get their online sportsbook up and running. They will have to be approved by the Illinois Gaming Board, and that process could take some time.

FanDuel applied for a sports betting license in February, and they are currently in talks to purchase Fairmount Park. If the deal goes through, FanDuel would be able to offer sports betting through the license awarded to Fairmount Park.

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