DraftKings Goes Live in Illinois Sports Betting Market

DraftKings Goes Live in Illinois Sports Betting Market
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DraftKings will be live in Illinois on Wednesday, although not with the online registration that was allowed in June and July after an executive order from the governor.

That means bettors must visit the DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook, which is across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, about 300 miles away from Chicago. DraftKings, which had been expected to be an early operator in the emerging Illinois sports betting market, announced it was live at Casino Queen.

RELATED: More on Illinois Online Casinos & Legislation

In the news release, DraftKings even noted that “customers can download the sportsbook app and visit DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis to finish creating their account onsite, providing them with statewide mobile sports betting access.”

From early June 4 until July 26, Illinois sports bettors could register online after Gov. JB Pritzker had suspended the in-person requirement because the 10 casinos in the state were closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the distance from highly populated Chicago, DraftKings should be able to draw bettors from St. Louis. Missouri has not legalized sports betting.

“Illinois is home to some of the most passionate sports fans and most iconic sports teams in the entire country,” Jason Robins, DraftKings co-founder, chairman and CEO, said in the news release. “DraftKings’ dedication to innovation and providing customers with a premier sports betting experience has made our app the top-rated option and we can’t wait for fans in Illinois to discover why.”

Competition Heating Up in Illinois

Over the weekend, William Hill opened its first Illinois sportsbook at Grand Victoria Casino Elgin about 40 miles west of downtown Chicago. Pending regulatory approval, William Hill will also offer mobile sports betting in Illinois.

DraftKings and William Hill joined Rush Street Interactive (Rivers Casino) and Penn National (Argosy Casino) with retail operations. BetRivers went live online in Illinois on June 18. The retail sportsbook at BetRivers also took the state’s the first legal sports bet March 9.

In mid July, DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet received temporary operating permits from the Illinois Gaming Board. PointsBet has partnered with Hawthorne Race Course, which was approved for a master sports wagering license July 30. It has not gone live yet, but PointsBet said it will “soon.” FanDuel is looking for a partner in Illinois.

Branding Rules Helped DraftKings

The gaming board made its proposed branding rules permanent at its meeting July 30. In late April, the board posted rules that would allow co-branding for online sports betting.

The DraftKings-Casino Queen partnership was announced June 30 giving DraftKings market access to the Illinois sports betting market. The deal, included in an SEC filing in June, was for five to 10 years.

The casino was rebranded as “DraftKings at Casino Queen” on July 23, allowing the sports betting operator to bypass the state’s required 18-month waiting period.

The state law signed by Pritzker last year included the waiting period for online-only operators to begin taking bets. It did allow for operators to become affiliated directly with a casino, track or stadium/arena in the state to avoid that so-called “penalty box.”

“We are excited to bring sports betting to Illinois and the St. Louis community,” Terry Downey, president of DraftKings at Casino Queen, said in the news release Wednesday. “The marriage of two iconic brands promises to create an unforgettable experience that can only be found at DraftKings at Casino Queen.”