Hawthorne, PointsBet To Launch 3 Sports Betting Sites At OTBs In Suburban Chicago

Written By Joe Boozell on September 17, 2020 - Last Updated on June 23, 2021

PointsBet launched its Illinois sports betting app last week, and its retail operations are coming soon.

In addition to the planned “racino” at Hawthorne Race Course, PointsBet will also operate retail sportsbooks at three Chicago suburban off-track betting (OTB) parlors.

They will be at Oak Brook Terrace, Prospect Heights and Crestwood.

PointsBet would be the first sportsbook in Illinois to have multiple retail locations. DraftKings eventually will once its sportsbook at Wrigley Field is finalized, and others may follow.

For now, PointsBet is making its presence felt in the Chicagoland area.

Player’s Pub & Grill is home to one OTB. Its sportsbook could launch as soon as Oct. 1, a representative told the Daily Herald.

The bar is nearly done with its interior renovations, which include expansion and reconfiguration of wagering windows. The city already makes tax revenue off Player’s Pub, and it helped fund a 2,500-square-foot OTB addition in 2016.

“We view this as a very easy transition to add a new revenue stream to the city that is one of our very good business partners,” said Dan Peterson, the city’s director of building and development.

The first Illinois sports betting revenue report came out Tuesday and, as expected, mobile wagering dominated. However, PointsBet appears poised to succeed in any sign-up environment.

PointsBet set up nicely for in-person registration

If Gov. JB Pritzker decides to bring back the in-person registration mandate later this week or in the coming months, PointsBet is in a better spot than its Illinois competitors.

A PointsBet representative confirmed that people could go to their racecourse or OTBs to sign up for PointsBet Sportsbook if online registration ends.

That still wouldn’t be ideal for your average Chicagoan or suburbanite. But several of the most convenient available options would belong to PointsBet.

All four sportsbooks would be within a 45-minute drive from downtown Chicago. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is also in a prime location, but PointsBet’s west and northwest-suburban presence are desirable.

By contrast, Chicagoans would have to drive almost five hours to East St. Louis to sign up for DraftKings Sportsbook. And they’d have to travel nearly three hours to East Peoria to sign up for FanDuel.

The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, which is partners with William Hill Sportsbook Illinois, is about an hour away from Chicago.

Partnering with a racetrack an attractive option

There are two Illinois racetracks without a sports betting dance partner: Arlington International Racecourse and Fairmount Park.

FanDuel was reportedly in talks to buy Fairmount, and the two could still come to an agreement. Arlington, meanwhile, is no longer interested in pursuing sports betting. Parent company Churchill Downs Inc. already owns a 61% stake in Rivers Casino.

From a sports betting operator’s perspective, the ability to have access to multiple OTBs should be a draw. Arlington, especially, has some enticing OTB spots (Joe’s Bar on Weed Street in Chicago stands out). And Fairmount has an OTB location in the state capital of Springfield.

For now, PointsBet is the only operator in Illinois to partner with a racetrack. And it could pay off soon.

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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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