Sports betting is here in Illinois. State lawmakers gave the green light to sports betting in 2019, but the first retail sportsbook officially opened up prior to March Madness. There was a mad dash to get ready in time for the Super Bowl, but it didn’t happen. Going live for the NCAA Tournament is a great accomplishment in and of itself and the BetRivers Sportsbook at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines was the first to go live on March 9, 2020.
There are 30 kiosks, five betting windows, and a ton of excitement about the start of legal wagering in Illinois. Online capabilities will become a reality later this year, but for those in Illinois that have been going across the border to Iowa or Indiana in order to get their bets in, this is a landmark step in the process.
Betting on collegiate teams from the state of Illinois is still restricted, so Illinois residents will still have to go outside the state lines if they want to bet on the Fighting Illini in the NCAA Tournament, but this is still a major step forward, not just for this particular state, but for all of the states that will launch in 2020. Indiana and Iowa have been going for a while now, but Michigan will go live prior to March Madness and states like Colorado are also going to be up and running in the not too distant future.
This will also enhance the sense of urgency for bordering and adjacent states like Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Minnesota so that they can stop losing important gambling dollars and revenue to the states that are already taking action.
Financial figures from Indiana show a heavy amount of money at the Horseshoe Hammond and Ameristar East Chicago properties are a result of the close proximity to the Chicago metro area. That should change over the course of 2020 with the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines going live and then legal mobile betting and online wagering before the end of the year.
Retail-only wagering has been a nice gateway for residents to get accustomed to betting and it will be the first step in the process for everybody in Illinois because this is a state that forces interested users to sign up in person before gaining access to the apps. For the time being, it may still be a lot more convenient for Chicagoans and those in the metro area to bet from their mobile devices and computers once they cross the border into Indiana, but that is only a temporary thing with Illinois moving forward.
The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is just north of O’Hare Airport, so it won’t be too difficult for people to get out there if they wish to make their bets. As far as other casinos that could be starting up in the not too distant future, there is a Hollywood Casino in Aurora, which is tied in with Penn National Gaming. There is a Harrah’s Casino in Joliet that is likely to have a sportsbook under the Caesars umbrella. The Par-A-Dice Casino near Peoria should also be getting on board, as well as the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. Even if these places only have kiosks and a small betting window, that would allow aspiring bettors to sign up and be eligible for the mobile capabilities that will be ready before the end of the year.
For most residents in the western part of the state, the Iowa casinos are still likely to be more convenient, but the online component will give them the opportunity to just head closer to the big city to sign up and then be good to go. Furthermore, the in-person requirement is only temporary, so those willing to wait can do so and just sign up through one of the apps at their own convenience once that restriction is lifted.
As usual, the big takeaway anytime there is news like this is that another state has been added to the world of legalized sports betting and that is never a bad thing.
Keep an eye out right here at ATS for more coverage of the industry and also a lot of betting tips, picks, and predictions to help you if you are already in a state that allows legal wagering.