BetRivers is currently the only legal online sportsbook operating in the Prairie State. That may change very soon, however. On Thursday, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) cleared the way for PointsBet Sportsbook in Illinois.
That licensure represented the last regulatory step to offering sports wagering at the Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero and online under that auspice. Now the timeline to launch is largely in the licensees’ hands.
Path to launch day for PointsBet Sportsbook Illinois
Although there’s no official timeline for either online or retail launch in the Prairie State, PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken released the following statement after the board’s decision:
“The PointsBet team is thrilled to hear the good news that our partners at Hawthorne Race Course today received a four-year master sports wagering license. Together, we will soon unveil our market-leading retail and mobile product for sports fans in the great state of Illinois, providing the premium sports betting experience they’ve so anxiously been waiting for.
“We’ve long stated that the best product will win, and we are excited to bring that to life in showcasing the competitive advantages we possess by owning our technology environment from end to end, such as unrivaled speed and ease of use on a personalized platform that’s free of friction. In combination with our premium retail locations conveniently located in and around downtown Chicago, we are sure we’ll be providing the Illinois consumer with exactly what they’ve been craving, both in-person and online.”
PointsBet already had its vendor permit, meaning it was just awaiting Hawthorne’s licensure to get to work in IL. It’s uncertain whether the brand will start accepting in-person bets as it builds out its online product for Illinoisans.
However, what is certain that to wager on that online sportsbook, Illinois bettors will have to visit the racecourse. IL law mandates in-person registration for online wagering until the IGB issues the first three online-only sportsbook licenses.
Once registered, IL bettors will be free to place wagers from anywhere within the state. There is another pertinent matter when it comes to accessibility, however.
Will there be mobile sports betting in Illinois?
PointsBet has yet to answer other questions like whether it will offer an Android or iOS app in Illinois. In neighboring Iowa, online bettors can only place wagers on the brand’s desktop/mobile website.
On the other hand, bettors in Indiana and New Jersey can conduct their sports betting business on the PointsBet app. It may be that PointsBet restricts mobile usage to the website to get the product live, while the app is under development.
The opening of the sportsbook may not be the only expansion on the horizon for Hawthorne, either. On Thursday, the IGB also took an early step toward letting the property convert itself into a fully fledged “racino.”
The IGB also found Hawthorne preliminarily suitable for a license to offer casino games. Essentially, that’s like getting preapproved for an auto or home loan.
That move sets Hawthorne up to file a formal application for a casino license. It’s unclear how prepared Hawthorne is to do so. Additionally, the IGB will take some time to process that application.
Also, the IGB’s Thursday meeting produced some news along those casino lines elsewhere in the state. Because of the board’s decision, city leaders in Danville have some work to do.
Danville casino developer cleared to draw up new plans
When the state enacted its latest gambling expansion law, it included the development of a Danville casino. Last October, Haven Gaming applied for a license to develop and operate that property.
In January, Haven asked the IGB for permission to modify its application. The argument centered on terms of its agreement with the city that it found unsuitable to the community’s standards.
The board denied that request, however. Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Haven asked to withdraw its application completely. The IGB’s members did approve that request.
Haven is now free to negotiate a new deal with the city and submit a new application. After approval, the developer can start working on making its plans a reality.
PointsBet Sportsbook Illinois is now closer than ever to becoming a reality as well. Illinoisans should expect further news on that front soon.