With Gov. J.B. Pritzker legalizing sports betting in Illinois last summer, more local casinos have applied for sports betting licenses, hoping to soon be ready to receive wagers.
In January, Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, and the Argosy Casino Alton received temporary licenses, allowing them to get operations ready before they can officially begin laying odds and receiving wagers on sporting events, according to the Chicago Sun Times. This is in addition to Fairmount Park racetrack in Collinsville applying for a license in February.
Now, three more casinos were granted temporary sports betting licenses just last week.
Three more casinos can prepare for official legalized sports betting
The Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet, and Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino in East Peoria were granted temporary sports betting licenses by the Illinois Gaming Board on Feb. 27, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
This comes before one of the biggest sporting events of the year, especially for sports betting, in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament – also known as March Madness. Gov. Pritzker said in February that he expects the sports betting industry to be started in time for the tournament.
The Argosy Casino Alton is the only place who has advertised for a March Madness launch, according to the Chicago Sun Times, but Rivers Casino executives have said they are hopeful to be ready in time for the tournament.
Each of the 10 existing casinos in Illinois are eligible to apply to open sportsbooks, in addition to the three horse racing tracks and up to seven sports venues like the United Center. Those sportsbooks will also be able to set up mobile sports betting apps, but online betting sites like DraftKings and FanDuel will not be able to apply for licenses for more than a year under the Illinois law.
Is launching in March doable?
March has been said to be the target launch date for sports betting in Illinois for some time now. Well, it’s early March now – so is it really possible?
Just last month, a seasoned gaming attorney with Casino Law Group in Chicago, IL, Cory Aronovitz, told PlayUSA via email that he is optimistic.
“Managing expectations is crucial, and there is a demand for the product. So, target dates with contingencies are appropriate,” Aronovitz said.
Argosy Casino Alton, Grand Victoria Casino Elgin, and Rivers Casino Des Plaines are the three casinos most likely to launch first.
“These properties all have sports wagering experience, and aside from tweaks for unique aspects of Illinois regulations, the software has been vetted and utilized in other markets,” Aronovitz said.
The sportsbooks must complete rigorous testing on internal control systems, betting software, and other compliance operations outlined by the emergency rules before they can be up and running.
Joe Miller, director of policy at the Illinois Gaming Board, told Legal Sports Report that they have given the casinos the tools and now they can finish the job.
“It’s on [the casinos] on how fast they want to go to become compliant with the rules and offer sports wagering to their customers,” Miller told LSR.
Gambling and Illinois go together like PB&J
Illinois already has a lot of experience in gambling as the state has more video gaming terminals (VGT) than Las Vegas. In 2019, Illinois collected $444,384,459 in taxes from gaming terminals. Municipalities collected a combined $83,833,498, according to a report from the IGB.
According to some estimates, the state could record an annual sports betting handle of $5.3 billion by 2023.
With an already solidified gambling landscape in the state, legalized sports betting will just make the industry even stronger and make Illinois the gambling powerhouse in the Midwest.