While Illinois bettors don’t have much more than table tennis and South Korean baseball, a unique sportsbook is positioning itself to join the state’s betting landscape.
Its arrival, many hope, will coincide with the return of American sports.
PointsBet could go live in Illinois in July
PointsBet CEO Sam Swanell told Legal Sports Report in late April that despite a slowed regulatory process, the sportsbook anticipates a retail launch in July, followed by online operations in September.
Based in Australia, the sportsbook launched its US arm in January 2019. PointsBet then announced its first Illinois partnership in July 2019, a 20-year agreement with Hawthorne Race Course near downtown Chicago.
As noted by LSR, the positioning of Hawthorne near the most populous area of Illinois cuts down the hurdles generated by Illinois’ requirement of in-person registration through the first year-and-a-half of operations.
Three branded off-track betting locations are also expected to sprout in the Chicago metro area, according to Legal Sports Report.
Other states to embrace PointsBet include New Jersey, Iowa, Colorado and a Midwestern neighbor.
Indiana’s gaming commission gave the OK for PointsBet to take online bets earlier this spring; the sportsbook’s rollout in the state was dramatically hampered by the cancellation of the Big Ten Tournament (slated to be held in Indianapolis) and March Madness.
What makes PointsBet unique?
The sportsbook often markets what it calls PointsBetting, a “high-risk, high-reward form of betting” unique to PointsBet, according to its website.
In other words, bettors “are either rewarded or docked by how right or wrong their wager was,” providing an alternative to fixed odds where “each point of difference from the spread or total becomes a multiplier of the original stake.”
This approach, notes the sportsbook, allows bettors “to win or lose more and more based upon the outcome of their wager.”
PointsBet also provides unique bet types, including quarterback completion percentages, minutes played for players to pass certain point totals, time of first basket and more.
Latest updates on potential Chicago casino
The possibility of a Chicago casino has maintained its place of interest during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker have expressed continued support for the idea.
The future of a potential Chicago casino, however, is wrapped up in the same waiting game that so many states find themselves in: How much federal funding will be provided to soften revenue shortages caused by COVID-19?
“We are in regular conversations with the governor and the legislative leaders and others to understand what options they’re looking at to fill the budget hole created at the state level and, of course, advocating both for a Chicago casino and no cuts to the local government fund,” said Lightfoot, quoted in Tuesday’s Politico Illinois Playbook.
Pritzker, meanwhile, said he “favored” getting the casino bill finished.
“It’s the right thing to do. It may be difficult to do in the next month,” the governor told reporters, saying he hopes “that we’d be able to get that done … sometime during the year here.”
Casinos closed ‘until further notice’
It is otherwise a dark time for Illinois’ casino industry.
The Illinois Gaming Board said on April 30 that casinos and video gaming terminals would stay closed “until further notice.” Casinos have been closed in the state since March 16.
Illinois Casino Gaming Association Executive Director Tom Swoik said operators hope casinos can open June 1, according to NBC Chicago.
Roughly $100 million has been lost by the state’s 10 casinos, with more than 5,000 casino employees out of work, noted Swoik. Criteria for opening could include spaced-out machines, sneeze guards between players, player limits at tables, no-touch card prohibitions and more, he noted.
“It’ll take several months to see people feeling comfortable to start coming back,” Swoik told the TV station. “Everyone’s going to be very, very cautious.”