Will Barstool Sportsbook, More Operators Launch In Illinois In Time For The Super Bowl?

Written By Joe Boozell on January 25, 2021 - Last Updated on February 22, 2021
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Illinois hosts five mobile sportsbooks at the moment, and it’s been that way since mid-September.

It’s a bit surprising that we haven’t had a new sportsbook launch since then, as Illinois was the No. 4 sports betting market in the US in October. When November revenue numbers come out, IL might vault into third.

Obviously, it’s a priority for operators. So, when will the list expand?

We know of at least three operators aiming for a 2021 launch: Barstool, BetMGM and Unibet.

And with Jumer’s Casino & Hotel applying for a retail sports betting license, we will likely see Bally’s in Illinois at some point.

For now, let’s focus on Unibet sportsbook, Barstool and the BetMGM sportsbook app in Illinois.

Here’s what we know, along with potential hurdles that could stand in the way.

When will Barstool Sportsbook Illinois launch?

Barstool hopes to be live in Illinois in time for March Madness betting, but not for the Super Bowl, according to sources.

That doesn’t mean it will be, but Penn National Gaming already has its Management Services Provider license.

Barstool is likely to open up retail sportsbooks at one of or both Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet. Penn owns both casinos, and that’s the pathway into the IL market.

As of now, the Barstool online sportsbook is only live in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Once it launches in Illinois, expect it to be a significant player. There is a large and engaged Barstool fan base in Chicago, and because there are only five online operators right now, the market isn’t nearly as crowded as it is in some states.

When will BetMGM Sportsbook Illinois launch?

BetMGM applied for a Management Services Provider license on Sept. 4, but the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has yet to make a ruling.

BetMGM’s situation is complicated. For a while, it looked like it had no retail pathway into the market unless it partnered with a professional sports team.

Then, FanDuel announced it was transferring its primary sports betting license to Fairmount Park, leaving Par-A-Dice Casino available.

Therefore, BetMGM should soon be able to partner with Par-A-Dice. However, FanDuel’s license transfer to Fairmount Park isn’t official yet, and BetMGM can’t operate until that happens.

By the way, FanDuel says it will continue to run the retail sportsbook at Par-A-Dice, but Illinois law only allows one mobile skin per entity. That’s why BetMGM can theoretically claim the mobile license once it’s up for grabs.

FanDuel announced its license transfer in November, so we’d expect it to finalize within the next few months.

That’s when BetMGM should be able to launch, pending IGB approval.

When will Unibet Sportsbook Illinois launch?

Unibet’s situation is more straightforward.

It has a retail partner with Argosy Casino Alton, so there are no hurdles in that regard.

Unibet applied for a Management Services Provider license on Nov. 16. It can launch whenever the IGB approves its application.

Senior vice president of Kindred US Manuel Stan told PlayIllinois in October that Unibet was planning an “early 2021” Illinois launch, and it appears to be on track to do so.

As of now, Unibet is also live in Indiana, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It also plans to launch in Iowa shortly.

Where can you bet on the Super Bowl in Illinois?

Although it doesn’t look like Illinoisans will be able to bet on the Super Bowl with Barstool, BetMGM or Unibet, there are currently five mobile betting options in Illinois. They are:

In the latest revenue report, DraftKings was the most popular of those sportsbooks, taking in $141.4 million in October bets.

Some heavy-hitters appear to be on the way, though. And once they arrive in Illinois, it will be fascinating to see how they stack up with the existing market leaders.

Photo by Doug Benc / AP
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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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