Barstool Sportsbook In Illinois: When It Could Launch And What To Expect

Written By Joe Boozell on September 28, 2020 - Last Updated on March 3, 2021

Barstool Sportsbook launched in Pennsylvania last week, which raises the question: When is it coming to Illinois?

We don’t know for sure, but one would think that the Illinois sports betting market would be attractive to Barstool.

Here’s what we know about Barstool coming to the Prairie State so far.

Barstool’s partner will likely be Hollywood Casinos

Barstool would need to partner with a land-based operator in order to avoid the 18-month “penalty box.” And thanks to its affiliation with Penn National Gaming, it has two attractive options.

Penn owns Hollywood Casino Aurora and Hollywood Casino Joliet. And when their retail sportsbooks opened in August, several Barstool personalities were heavily promoting them on social media.

Penn also owns Argosy Casino Alton, but it will partner with Unibet to offer mobile sports betting.

So, unlike DraftKings or FanDuel, there’s not much mystery surrounding Barstool’s path into the Illinois market.

The Hollywood casinos and Penn both have Illinois sports betting licenses, as well.

Perhaps Barstool hasn’t announced expansion plans simply because it’s not ready to. But it’s set up to launch in Illinois once it so chooses.

Barstool customer service says they are “working hard to launch in all legalized online sports betting states,” and tells Illinoisans to download their app for updates.

Attempts to reach Penn for comment were unsuccessful.

What to expect when it launches in Illinois

There’s plenty of betting interest in the Land of Lincoln.

Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said at last week’s meeting that there were already 230,000 registered sports betting accounts in the state.

That was before Gov. JB Pritzker extended mobile registration for at least another month. Illinoisans wagered an impressive $51.4 million in July, even with one online sportsbook (BetRivers) available and few sports available for wagering.

Barstool got off to a strong start in Pennsylvania; however, there’s some noise baked into the numbers.

As of Thursday morning, Barstool said 180,000 downloads had taken place across the US — an eye-popping number.

But most of those people are outside of Pennsylvania, so they can’t deposit yet. In PA, about 30,000 people downloaded the app.

Barstool recorded an $11 million handle last Friday through Monday. For reference, in Pennsylvania’s latest revenue report, FanDuel led the way with a $144.2 million handle in August.

If Barstool keeps that same pace, it would record an $82.5 million monthly handle. That’s a strong figure, but it would have some work to do to lead the industry.

Some big brands in Illinois, including DraftKings and FanDuel, will have had significant head starts over Barstool.

But there are currently only five online sportsbooks in Illinois that have a ton of sports betting appeal, so there is room for Barstool to succeed in the Land of Lincoln. It also has a strong Chicago presence and local following, so it figures to resonate.

With that said, the registration flip-flopping looms as an issue for any sportsbook that hopes to launch, including Barstool.

How soon can Barstool go live?

Every day that mobile registration is allowed is precious in Illinois. As of now, the in-person registration mandate could return by Oct. 17.

If Barstool can launch before then, it will have a reasonable window to register customers. If it can’t, it will be in a tough spot, competing against sportsbooks that have all had at least a month to sign up people remotely.

In-person registration isn’t going to be around forever, but if Barstool launches several months before mobile registration is allowed again, it may be in no man’s land.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, and 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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