The Illinois Gaming Board approved three temporary sports betting licenses last week, and the state is set to see two of the biggest names enter the market. PointsBet received its temporary license last Tuesday, and DraftKings and FanDuel received theirs on Friday.
It’s still unclear when these two companies will be able to launch their mobile apps in the state of Illinois, but it’s going to happen much earlier than expected. Most predicted that these two companies would be kept out of the state until 2022, but there is a chance they will launch in 2020.
DraftKings has partnered with the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, and they will run a retail sportsbook at that location. This partnership also gives DraftKings the ability to offer mobile sports betting in the state.
FanDuel will be partnering with Fairmount Park Racetrack, and they are in talks to purchase that facility. At this time, no deal is imminent, but the state has already granted them a temporary operating license.
Rivers Casino in Des Plaines was the first casino to offer retail sports betting as it launched on March 9. The Argosy Casino Hotel in Alton has joined Rivers as the only two retail sports betting options at this time.
Governor JB Pritzker issued an executive order that loosened sign-up requirements for mobile sports betting, and Rivers Casino was the first to take advantage. The BetRivers mobile app was launched in June, and it remains the only mobile sports betting option in the state.
The Rivers Casino has expressed opposition in allowing both DraftKings and FanDuel to enter the Illinois market, but they will likely be overruled. Illinois is staring at a huge budget deficit, and they need companies that will bring in more revenue.
The Illinois Gaming Board has also issued other temporary owner’s licenses this month, and other casinos are working to offer retail betting.
Working Around the Penalty Box
When Illinois lawmakers created an expanded gaming bill last year, they intentionally put in language that would keep both FanDuel and DraftKings out of the state. The state of Illinois believed that these two companies acted as “bad actors” in accepting players from Illinois.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel were placed in the “penalty box,” which meant that they could not apply for a mobile-only operating license for at least 18 months after the first bet was taken. This law was in effect for all mobile-only operators, but the state knew that these two companies would be punished the most.
By partnering with casinos and racetracks, FanDuel and DraftKings have been able to work around the penalty box, and will be able to enter the market much quicker. The state of Illinois has also seemed to change their opinion of these two companies as they realize how much revenue they can bring in.
Illinois has gotten off to a much slower start in sports betting than anticipated, and adding these two operators to the mix could turn things around. Look for both FanDuel and DraftKings to be leaders in the market heading into 2021.