The Illinois sports betting industry got a huge boost on Wednesday as DraftKings Sportsbook officially launched. Sports betting was available at DraftKings at 1 pm local time, and both retail and online sports betting was included.
DraftKings is partnering with the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, and the property has now been rebranded “DraftKings at Casino Queen.” Illinois was expected to keep DraftKings out of the market for almost two years, but the sports betting operator found a way to break through.
DraftKings CEO, Jason Robins, cited the dedicated and passionate sports fans in Illinois as one of the biggest reasons that the company chose the state as their latest launch. The company is expected to become a major player in the industry in Illinois, but they do have some factors working against them.
Online Registration Window Now Closed
When the original expanded gaming laws in Illinois were announced, there was an 18 month period where all sports betting registration had to be completed in person. This restriction kept some of the biggest operators from pursuing a license in the state, and it also kept the industry from taking off.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Governor JB Pritzker issued an executive order that listed the in-person registration restriction. Casinos were shut down to stop the spread of the virus, and Pritzker wanted to give customers a chance to bet on sports.
Unfortunately, Pritzker decided not to extend that executive order at the end of July, and the in-person registration requirement is now back in place. This means that anyone wanting to bet online through DraftKings Sportsbook will first have to visit the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.
In-person registration is now required once again until the first online-only operating license is issued. Those licenses can’t even be applied for until September 2021, making it hard for DraftKings Sportsbook to get off the ground.
DraftKings Sportsbook now has a clear edge in the St. Louis metro area, but that could be short-lived. Penn National Gaming owns and operates the Argosy Casino in Alton, but they have yet to launch their mobile app.
Penn National will be unveiling their Barstool Sportsbook brand at some point later this year.
Only 2 Online Sportsbooks in Illinois
Now that DraftKings is up and running in the state, there are a pair of online sports betting options for their residents. DraftKings joins BetRivers as the only two mobile or online betting options in the state.
BetRivers is a product of Rivers Casino, and they enjoyed a considerable head start on the competition in Illinois. BetRivers was able to take advantage of the mobile registration offer, and they built up a large customer base.
Rivers Casino in Des Plaines was the first in the state to offer retail sports betting, taking their first wagers on March 9. The sportsbook and casino were shut down within a week as the state dealt with the pandemic.