Fairmount Park Racetrack will be no more. The 95-year-old Collinsville horse track will rebrand to become FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing once it’s open for business.
Matt King, the CEO of FanDuel Group, said in a statement:
“We are delighted to partner with Fairmount Park to continue bringing high quality horse racing and soon additional entertainment experiences via our sportsbook to the region. Fairmount is an iconic state landmark which we plan to modernize bringing innovative technology and entertainment offerings only FanDuel can deliver.”
FanDuel Sportsbook has been operating in Illinois since late August when it partnered with Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria.
According to FanDuel, it will transfer its sports betting license from Par-A-Dice to the Illinois horse track “in the near future.” A FanDuel spokesperson confirmed to PlayIllinois that it would continue to operate the Par-A-Dice retail sportsbook.
However, Illinois law only allows for one mobile skin per entity. Once the transfer is complete, another operator can partner with Par-A-Dice to enter the Illinois online market, likely opening the door for BetMGM.
In October, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) deemed Fairmount preliminarily suitable to open a “racino,” and granted the park a sports betting license.
Apparently, FanDuel has big plans for the future downstate racino.
Fairmount Park currently in rough shape
The Collinsville track has been trending downward for years. The revenue hasn’t been there to attract top horse owners and adequately maintain the facility.
Purse sizes are among the lowest in the country.
Collinsville officials have long been hoping for Illinois gaming legislation to allow Fairmount to offer slots and sports betting. Now, that’s a reality.
According to the release, FanDuel and Fairmount will invest millions of dollars into the property, though the exact amount is unclear.
William Stiritz and Associates has owned the track since 2000, and FanDuel says it will work with the group to revitalize the track with significant upgrades.
FanDuel is experienced in the horse racing space, even if this will be the first track to carry its name. It has several partnerships with horse tracks across the country and operates TVG app, the horse race betting and TV service.
As part of the deal, the St. Louis Derby will also return next season. It hasn’t been run in Collinsville since 2006, and the agreement will help fund the event’s $250,000 purse.
Exact terms between FanDuel and William Stiritz and Associates are unknown, but based on the rebrand, one would have to think that FanDuel has acquired a significant stake in the track.
FanDuel is the second Illinois sports betting operator to partner with a race track. PointsBet partnered with Hawthorne Race Course near Chicago to secure market access, but the Hawthorne name will remain on the horse track.
“Fairmount Park is excited to extend our partnership with FanDuel Group to now include their sports gaming platform,” said Melissa Helton, the general manager of Fairmount Park. “This partnership will allow the park to remain an important economic driver for the surrounding communities.”
FanDuel off to a solid start in Illinois
In FanDuel’s first full month as a live Illinois sports betting operator, it recorded $78.6 million in handle.
That was third behind BetRivers Sports and DraftKings Sportsbook. However, the gap between FanDuel and fourth place PointsBet was almost $70 million.
Meanwhile, FanDuel was only about $20 million behind second place DraftKings. That duo gained serious ground on BetRivers from August to September, and it’s fair to wonder whether both will overtake BetRivers at some point.
This deal should also help increase FanDuel’s retail presence in Illinois.
Despite quality online numbers, Par-A-Dice Casino recorded just $191,650 in retail handle in September. That was seventh out of Illinois’ eight retail sportsbooks.
Collinsville is located about 20 minutes from downtown St. Louis, which is part of what makes it enticing for FanDuel. It will have to compete with DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis and Argosy Casino Alton for foot traffic, but there’s proven betting interest in the area.
Those two casinos combined for $4.7 million in retail sports betting handle in September, by comparison. And FanDuel will also be able to offer horse racing, unlike those two casinos.
Exciting times are ahead for both FanDuel and DraftKings in Illinois. The latter will eventually add another retail sportsbook in tandem with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.