You Get A License! And You! Trio Of Casinos Get OK To Add Sports Betting, Including Newbie Bally’s

Posted By Joe Boozell on June 10, 2021

Bally’s Corporation has officially assumed ownership of Jumer’s Casino & Hotel, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) announced at Wednesday’s meeting.

The IGB also granted the national gaming company a retail sports betting license to add to the good Illinois news.

Harrah’s Joliet and Harrah’s Metropolis also received retail sports betting licenses during the IGB meeting.

Next, the casinos must file a request with the IGB to officially begin offering sports betting. Once approved, every casino in Illinois will offer retail sports betting.

Bally’s will likely rebrand the Jumer’s casino, though the new name of the Rock Island location is to be determined.

For now, Bally’s won’t have an online sports betting presence in Illinois. But assuming it applies for a mobile license, its sports betting app in Colorado is called Bally Bet, where it’s currently live.

In a similar vein, theScore Bet has a market access deal with Harrah’s Joliet, while a potential Harrah’s Metropolis mobile partner is unknown. Caesars owns both Harrah’s casinos.

At any rate, the Illinois sports betting field is expanding. Though given the in-person registration requirement for online sportsbooks, it’s a strange time in an undeniably popular market.

The Illinois sports betting scene is complicated

There are reasons to be optimistic about the Illinois sports wagering market and reasons to be pessimistic.

On the one hand, Illinois was No. 2 among all US sports betting states in handle in April. The Land of Lincoln took in $537.2 million worth of bets, finishing ahead of Nevada and Pennsylvania for the first time.

Despite a sharp decrease from the $633.6 million in handle in March, Illinois’ US standing is extremely impressive. So it’s easy to see why any sports betting operator would want to get into the Prairie State.

On the other hand, Illinois still has in-person registration. And that probably isn’t going away until 2022.

And at this point, sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers have established themselves in Illinois. They’ve been operating online since last summer.

Therefore, it could be tough to crack the Illinois market once in-person registration is lifted. On top of that, we’re still pretty far away from the possibility of online sign-ups.

In other words, it’s going to be an uphill climb for new operators.

Still, it speaks to the potential of the IL market that new operators are still aggressively pursuing it. BetMGM, Unibet and Golden Nugget are also trying to get in and are at varying stages of the process.

How will IL return to online registration?

In order for Illinois to return to remote registration, the IGB must hand out a mobile license.

Applications for a mobile license won’t be available until December, however. And given the IGB’s slow process in other areas, it likely won’t grant a mobile license until 2022.

Making matters complicated, though, is that mobile-only licenses cost a hefty $20 million apiece. The legislature originally included them to entice companies like DraftKings and FanDuel, but they found loopholes into the IL market.

So, will anyone bid? We can’t say with certainty, but given the amount of operators currently lining up for a slice of the Illinois pie, it feels like someone will fork over the cash.

Photo by Wayne Parry / 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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