During a Thursday morning meeting, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) found Fairmount Park to be preliminarily suitable to open a “racino,” and also awarded the park a sports wagering license.
While that’s not a guarantee that the racino will be approved, it is the most crucial step in the process. And approval is highly likely.
FanDuel will serve as Fairmount Park’s sports betting operator.
The decision comes after several months of rumors linking Fairmount Park to FanDuel. FanDuel initially secured sports betting market access via a partnership with Par-A-Dice Casino in August, a surprise at the time.
Fairmount can offer up to 900 gaming positions at slot machines and table games, as well as a sportsbook. The expansion is expected to cost at least $50 million.
Now, FanDuel will have two retail sports betting offerings in the Land of Lincoln. And Illinoisans should eventually have two racinos once the Fairmount Park and Hawthorne Race Course renovations are complete.
The timeline for the Fairmount Park expansion is unclear at this time, and is dependent on how quickly the rest of the approval process goes.
Fairmount, FanDuel to compete for St. Louis foot traffic
DraftKings at Casino Queen and Fairmount Park are each located less than 15 minutes from St. Louis. Argosy Casino Alton, meanwhile, is a little over 30 minutes away.
All three locations will offer sports betting in addition to slots and table games, so there’s going to be plenty of competition for St. Louis-area customers.
While significant, the news would be even more impactful if the in-person sports betting registration mandate was still in place.
That’s not the case, however, due to an ongoing executive order from Gov. JB Pritzker. Mobile registration is in place until at least Nov. 14, a date that will likely be extended based on the COVID-19 outlook in Illinois.
If the state still required in-person registration, Fairmount Park would have served as a valuable downstate hub for FanDuel.
FanDuel also joins the growing list of Illinois sportsbooks to offer multiple retail locations.
PointsBet, whose primary partner is Hawthorne Race Course, will also open three Chicago suburban off-track betting sites in the near future. DraftKings, meanwhile, will eventually open a retail sportsbook at Wrigley Field in partnership with the Chicago Cubs.
One less retail option for new operators
While Fairmount Park’s sportsbook partner is no surprise, it’s still a bit of a blow to new operators.
Fairmount Park was one of the few retail locations known to have an interest in sports betting without a partner. Now, it is officially linked up with FanDuel.
Jumer’s Casino & Hotel is interested in offering sports betting, but its sale to Twin River likely won’t be complete until the second quarter of 2021.
Sports venues such as Guaranteed Rate Field and the United Center don’t have official sports betting partners, but we also don’t know if they are interested in acquiring one under Jerry Reinsdorf‘s ownership.
For those reasons, the plan for the BetMGM sportsbook in Illinois remain a mystery. They have applied for a sports betting license, but their pathway to market access is unclear.