Hollywood Casino Aurora Sets Stage For First Barstool Sportsbook In Illinois

Written By Joe Boozell on February 25, 2021 - Last Updated on March 2, 2021

It has long been suspected, but Barstool Sportsbook is officially coming to the Hollywood Casino Aurora.

Hollywood Aurora tweeted on Tuesday, confirming the industry expectation:

Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden said a few weeks ago that Barstool plans to launch before March Madness betting begins. It remains to be seen if that will happen, as Selection Sunday is rapidly approaching.

Regardless, Barstool will be in Illinois soon enough. And if you’re in sports bettor in the Chicagoland area, you’ll have no shortage of Barstool options.

Where else will Barstool have a retail sportsbook in Illinois?

We know that the Argosy Casino Alton will eventually feature a Barstool Sportsbook.

Argosy, which is in suburban St. Louis, is the second-most popular retail sportsbook in Illinois after BetRivers.

That news came as a bit of a surprise, as Unibet has Illinois market access via Argosy and plans to launch in 2021.

However, Penn owns Argosy, so it likely reasoned that Barstool branding would drum up more interest. The data backs up that reasoning.

In addition to Argosy and Hollywood Aurora, Penn also owns Hollywood Casino Joliet. While not official, we also expect Hollywood Joliet to have a Barstool Sportsbook.

It has also hinted as such on social media.

Finally, while East Chicago is in Indiana, there is also a Barstool Sportsbook at the Ameristar Casino East Chicago.

That location is the closest to Chicago, as it’s just over a 30-minute drive from downtown.

What should we expect from Barstool Illinois once it launches?

First off, it uses Kambi odds, much like DraftKings and BetRivers. So once it launches, half of the state’s online sportsbooks will use Kambi odds.

That’s not great for line shoppers looking to glean the best value out of their picks.

As far as the market goes, though, Barstool is positioned nicely and should fare well.

Chicago has the second-highest Barstool following behind Boston. And it is off to a solid start in markets such as Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Barstool is the clear-cut No. 3 operator in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and if you’re buying the company line, they don’t have to spend as much in customer acquisition as competitors.

In Illinois, there is a clear top three of DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers. There’s an enormous handle gap between BetRivers and No. 4 PointsBet.

Expect Barstool to compete with BetRivers for the No. 3 spot. BetRivers is much bigger in Illinois than it is in other states, exceeding $100 million in monthly handle once again in December.

It is slipping in the rankings, however, as FanDuel posted a higher handle for the first time that month. Barstool may start off in fourth and gradually climb, though we haven’t seen evidence in other states that it will jump into the top two.

Why this could jolt the Illinois sports betting market

Simply put, Illinois needs more online operators if it’s going to pass Pennsylvania and become the No. 3 sports betting market in the US.

A new mobile sportsbook hasn’t launched in Illinois since William Hill in mid-September. And with only five online betting options, IL doesn’t have nearly as many offerings as most comparable states.

Illinois posted $491.7 million in December handle, while Pennsylvania clocked in at $548.6 million.

New sportsbooks should raise the ceiling, Barstool or anyone else.

While the timing would have been better back in the fall, it’s still great now, assuming Gov. JB Pritzker continues to extend mobile registration.

Photo by Nati Harnik / AP file photo
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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