PointsBet Is Coming To Illinois, And It Could Be A Major Player After NBC Deal

Written By Joe Boozell on September 1, 2020 - Last Updated on March 23, 2021

PointsBet is now teasing its imminent Illinois launch, and it had already been an eventful few days for the Australian-based gaming operator.

Last week, PointsBet struck a deal with NBC. The media giant will serve as PointsBet’s official sports betting partner for the next several years.

NBC will market PointsBet across its expansive portfolio of events. In return, NBC gets a 4.9% ownership stake in PointsBet and has 66.88 million options that mature in five years.

The deal may be particularly impactful in Illinois. Here’s why.

NBC Sports Chicago airs live sporting events

Before the season, the Cubs bolted to Marquee Sports Network, but NBC Sports Chicago (NBCSC) boasts an impressive roster of local TV rights.

It owns the rights for the following teams:

  • Bulls
  • White Sox
  • Blackhawks 
  • Sky
  • Northern Illinois football
  • Illinois State basketball

NBC (proper) also owns the rights to Notre Dame football, perhaps the most popular college football team in the Chicagoland area.

So, when you first think about the PointsBet-NBC deal, flagship programming such as Sunday Night Football, The Olympics or Stanley Cup Playoffs might come to mind. But in specific markets such as Chicago, the regional component is paramount.

The Cubs loss hurts, but between the Bulls, White Sox and Blackhawks, NBCSC can air games year-round for three of Chicago’s most prominent teams.

It will be interesting to see if NBCSC adds any betting-specific programming to its lineup. Last month, the network discontinued Chicago Sports Talk Live, which aired for more than 16 years.

PointsBet poised for Illinois success

As of now, it looks like PointsBet Illinois will be the fourth online sportsbook to hit the Illinois market behind BetRivers, DraftKings and FanDuel.

But the possible return of the in-person registration requirement in Illinois isn’t nearly as daunting for PointsBet as it is for DraftKings or FanDuel sportsbooks.

That’s because PointsBet’s land-based partner is Hawthorne Racecourse, located less than 10 miles from downtown Chicago in Cicero.

So, Illinois sports bettors would be able to register for accounts there, or at one of Hawthorne’s 10 off-track betting (OTB) locations.

Its Corliss Avenue spot is in Chicago, while a presence in suburbs Oak Brook and Prospect Heights could also prove valuable.

By comparison, DraftKings is partnered with DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis, which is more than a four-hour drive from Chicago.

FanDuel is teamed up with Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, almost a three-hour drive from Chicago.

In August, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker lifted the in-person registration requirement until at least Sept. 19.

While the Illinois handle would be much smaller with in-person registration versus online, PointsBet is in the rare position to thrive in either environment. And the NBC deal should certainly help for the reasons outlined above.

Thus, we can see why FanDuel and DraftKings are pursuing customers so aggressively in the meantime.

More details on PointsBet-NBC deal

In addition to NBC’s ownership stake in PointsBet, it will also receive affiliate fees for any depositing bettor it sends to the sportsbook. So, it has an incentive to market PointsBet as much as possible.

We outlined some Illinois-specific programming above, but here’s where else you may see PointsBet pop up:

  • NBC Sports Network
  • Golf Channel
  • Peacock
  • Telemundo Deportes
  • Telemundo
  • NBC Sports Predictor app
  • Rotoworld

“These assets will act as the cornerstone of our marketing strategy and combined with our in-house technology and products, as well as our talented and experienced team, will deliver outstanding client acquisition and retention efficiency as we scale rapidly over the next five years,” PointsBet Managing Director and Group CEO Sam Swanell said.

Points Bet-NBC is the latest in a growing list of sportsbook-media company partnerships.

But in Illinois, it has a great chance to be the most impactful.

Joe Boozell Avatar
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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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