Illinois Will Be 15th To Launch Sports Betting
Legal Sports Report

Illinois Sports Betting Joins March Madness With Retail Launch

Illinois sports betting

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines will be the first to take an Illinois sports bet Monday morning as the state becomes the 15th with legal sports betting.

“The BetRivers Sportsbook will take March Madness out of the office pool and into an exciting, elevated live sports wagering experience,” said Corey Wise, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Rivers Casino. “We are grateful to the Illinois Gaming Board staff for their work approving our sportsbook in time for the college basketball tournament—one of the greatest sports events of the year.”

The sportsbook will open at 10 a.m. to take the first-ever wager in Illinois sports betting. The sportsbook includes a 47-foot-wide ultra HD LEG video wall, five betting windows, and 30 sportsbook kiosks.

Illinois sports betting licensees so far

Rivers was one of the first casinos approved to launch IL sports betting in February by the state’s gaming regulators.

There are five other casino operators that received temporary operating permits as well:

  • Penn National’s Argosy, Hollywood Aurora and Hollywood Joliet
  • Eldorado Resorts’ Grand Victoria 
  • Boyd’s Par-A-Dice 

Also getting a temporary operating permit was horse track Fairmount Park.

No other operators have said if they plan to launch before March Madness.

No Illinois online licensees yet

There’s still no timeline for Illinois to launch online sports betting. No online operators have submitted an application.

Mobile is also less than ideal in the state because of its in-person registration requirement. The requirement won’t disappear until the first standalone mobile license is approved. And that can only be approved 18 months after retail sports betting in Illinois begins.

That means it’ll be around the start of football season in 2021 before bettors can set up accounts completely online at the earliest.

Of course, there might not be anyone lining up for those standalone licenses, which cost $20 million each.

Sports betting throughout the state

Illinois authorized a bunch of entities to take bets through a massive gaming expansion bill last year.

The state, of course, allows the usual suspects – casinos, racetracks, and standalone mobile operators – to take bets.

But Illinois took it a couple of steps beyond other states. Lottery vendors and up to seven stadiums can also offer sports betting.

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- Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.
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