New Illinois Sports Betting Option Cleared 16 Months After Applying

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Illinois sports betting

The Illinois sports betting market soon will have a seventh online sportsbook.

The Illinois Gaming Board approved BetMGM Sportsbook for a sports betting license Thursday. BetMGM applied for the Illinois sports betting license way back in September 2020.

BetMGM gained market access through Boyd Gaming’s Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, a tethering option that opened when FanDuel switched its license affiliation to Fairmount Park Racetrack last spring, according to PlayIllinois

When asked about the lengthy delay from application to licensure, a BetMGM spokesperson said they could not speak to the timeline of the approval process.

“We’re thrilled that BetMGM is now licensed in Illinois,” BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said in a statement. “We thank the Illinois Gaming Board and, pending regulatory approvals, look forward to bringing BetMGM’s leading digital sports betting experience to Illinois sports fans on March 5, when digital registration is permitted in the state.”

Illinois sports betting operators

BetMGM joins six other sportsbooks licensed in the state:

DraftKings and FanDuel are the clear market leaders in the state, with November market shares of 38.0% and 28.8%, respectively.

BetMGM should launch in time to coincide with the return of mobile registration on March 5, which will lead into March Madness betting. Of note, bets on in-state college teams must be placed at retail sportsbooks.

Illinois growth coming with mobile change

Illinois already is regularly among the top-three US sports betting markets in handle. The Illinois Gaming Board reported $779.8 million bets in November, as well as a record $78.2 million in operator revenue.

The expiration of the in-person registration requirement should be a boon to the market, as its suspension in 2020 and early 2021 helped boost the market to its current status.

Mobile registration could also lead to a rise in operators into the market as well. According to PlayIllinois, there are three applicants for online-only licenses in the state.

BetMGM national growth plan

During a recent earnings call, BetMGM executives said they planned to launch in Illinois in the first quarter of 2022. After its Jan. 18 New York sports betting launch, BetMGM will be in the first wave for online Louisiana sports betting Friday.

BetMGM also reported it was the No. 2 sports betting and online casino operator in the US from August to November 2021 with a 24% market share. The online sportsbook is live in 14 states before Louisiana’s launch.

BetMGM also is set to receive a new $450 million joint investment from Entain and MGM Resorts.