How DraftKings Will Skate Away From Illinois Sports Betting Penalty Box

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It looks like DraftKings Sportsbook found a way to avoid the penalty box in Illinois.

Casino Queen will be rebranded as DraftKings at Casino Queen as part of the agreement to launch retail and online IL sports betting through the casino.

DraftKings Sportsbook was one of three operators to receive a temporary operating permit last week. Casino Queen’s license, however, is still pending approval. The Illinois Gaming Board next meets July 30.

DraftKings told LSR it was one step closer with the permit but didn’t provide an estimated timeframe for launch.

DraftKings brand will be prominent

The name change looks to be a way to get around Illinois rules published in late May concerning branding.

The emergency rule, which is not yet filed, said sports betting sites operated by master licensees have to feature the facility brand most prominently. Illinois allows only one online skin (or brand) per licensee.

It’s similar to the regulation put in place in Pennsylvania, though enforcement concerns appear mild.

Rebranding a casino was one of the few ways DraftKings could have its brand as most prominent on its site. It also could have bought a casino or waited to apply for one of the three online-only sports betting licenses.

But those online-only licenses have a few big stipulations. They’re only available for $20 million each after the market has been open for 18 months.

That part of the Illinois legislation passed in 2019 intended to punish DraftKings and FanDuel for operating DFS contests in defiance of a 2015 attorney general opinon.

Sudden rush on Illinois sports betting

Sports betting in Illinois is getting a lot more attention recently thanks to an emergency order from Gov. JB Pritzker.

Pritzker announced an executive order in June that in-person registration is suspended for the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations during the coronavirus pandemic. This accounted for the fact that in-person signups could not happen while casinos remained closed for safety reasons.

In-person registration was supposed to be required until the first $20 million standalone license was approved.

That’s led to some big operators pushing forward with Illinois plans quickly, with Rush Street launching BetRivers online shortly after the announcement. So far it’s the only online sportsbook that’s launched.

PointsBet and FanDuel Sportsbook also received their temporary sports betting licenses last week. Like DraftKings, both are still stuck without a licensed partner.