Sports betting in Illinois is in a real state of flux right now. Casinos just recently reopened following the coronavirus shutdowns, but the executive order from Governor J.B. Pritzker that allows users to sign up remotely for sports betting apps remains active.
Illinois passed sports betting legislation with the stipulation that, like Iowa, registration would have to be done in-person. That particular stipulation put online-only operators like DraftKings and FanDuel into what was pretty much considered to be a “penalty box” of sorts. They were going to struggle to get things up and running due to some opposition dating back to their days as exclusively DFS operators.
Well, DraftKings took matters into its own hands this week and has partnered with Casino Queen in East St. Louis for a retail sportsbook and also a nice in for mobile and online sports betting. DraftKings could launch by the end of July, when the NBA and NHL are supposed to start back up for their abbreviated regular season finishes.
The more realistic option is that DraftKings will be good to go by the upcoming college football and NFL seasons, which will overlap with the NHL and NBA playoffs and also the MLB season. Nevertheless, what was thought to be something of a stumbling block for DraftKings has proven to be anything but and they will have operations going much faster than most anticipated.
At present, BetRivers is the only sports betting operator up and running through its own property in Des Plaines. Argosy Casino, Grand Victoria Casino, Hollywood Casino Aurora, Hollywood Casino Joliet, and Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino have all been approved for their master licenses for a period of four years, but none of those properties have gotten sports betting operations up and running as of yet. Grand Victoria will be a BetMGM property when they do start.
It remains to be seen how long the in-person registration requirement will be off the table in Illinois, but coronavirus spikes around the nation should keep it in place for a while. At a minimum, bettors looking to wager on golf, UFC, and NASCAR while waiting for NBA, NHL, and MLB can register remotely for BetRivers and start using that.
DraftKings will provide some competition in short order and BetMGM will come after that. When we updated the Illinois mobile betting situation in early June, FanDuel was in negotiations to buy Fairmount Park Racetrack in order to set up retail operations and subsequently mobile and online betting.
The Chicagoland market is a huge one. Many bettors are already familiar with apps by having accounts set up in Indiana, which has been up and running with mobile capabilities since October.
A lot of betting dollars are up for grabs in Illinois. BetRivers has a head start its competition, but with DraftKings about ready to leave the starting block and BetMGM and FanDuel soon to follow, things are about to get very interesting in the Land of Lincoln.