First Online Sportsbook in Illinois Launches at BetRivers

First Online Sportsbook in Illinois Launches at BetRivers
© USA Today

A week after the Illinois Gaming Board approved master sports wagering licenses for seven casinos, one has launched its online/mobile site.

Rush Street Interactive’s Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened its online sportsbook BetRivers.com Thursday, according to a news release. The Bet Rivers retail sportsbook took the state’s the first legal sports bet on March 9.


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"We are excited to make history in bringing the first online sportsbook to sports fans in our home state just in time as American sports are coming back into action," Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Interactive, said in the release.

Bettors will be able to register from home because Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued an executive order on June 4 allowing for online registration without visiting a casino. The state law signed by Pritzker last year required the In-person registration.

To place wagers, bettors must be physically located within state borders and be at least 21 years old.

BetRivers.com will also live stream sporting events so that players can bet while they watch the action, according to the release. UFC, NASCAR and the PGA Tour have returned with live events and the NBA and NHL are close to resuming training camps.

When the gaming board approved the licenses last week, Bet Rivers was clearly the closest to opening an online sportsbook. Rush Street Interactive is based in Chicago.

Casinos in Illinois were shut down by the state on March 16 and have not reopened. At last week’s hearing, Gaming Board Administrator Marcus D. Fruchter said no date has been determined to reopen.

When Will Other Online Sportsbooks Start?

With master licenses being issued last week, an 18-month clock started on a "penalty box" requirement in the state law for online operators.

Online-only operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel have to wait 18 months after the first master license was approved before being able to offer sports. betting in the state BetRivers.com had an affiliation with a casino so it did not have to wait to begin.

The law allows for three online-only licenses at a cost of $20 million each.

A casino, track or stadium/arena affiliation for the online operator could be a way around the waiting period. Emergency rules that would allow co-branding for online sports betting were recently set by the gaming board.

Pritzker signed the state’s gaming bill into law on June 18, 2019. The law permits casinos, stadiums/arenas and horse tracks to apply for sports betting licenses.

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