Seven Sportsbooks Have Licenses Renewed But Brace For A Ban On In-State College Betting

Written By Phil West on June 18, 2024
A person adding a seal of approval signifies Illinois granting licenses to seven IL sports betting licensees

Two important matters affecting Illinois sports betting came out of the most recent Illinois Gaming Board meeting: the renewal of seven sportsbooks’ licenses for four years, through June 2028, and notification of a ban on sports betting involving Illinois college teams after July 1, 2024.

FanDuel and DraftKings casino partners amond those seeking renewals

The sportsbooks receiving renewals are:

  • Alton Casino, LLC, doing business as Argosy Casino Alton,
  • Casino Queen, Inc., doing business as DraftKings at Casino Queen,
  • Elgin Riverboat Resort, doing business as Grand Victoria Casino,
  • HC Aurora, LLC, doing business as Hollywood Casino Aurora,
  • HC Joliet LLC, doing business as Hollywood Casino Joliet,
  • Midwest Gaming & Entertainment, LLC, doing business as Rivers Casino, and
  • Par-A-Dice Gaming Corporation, doing business as Paradise Hotel Casino.

Of those, only Hollywood Casino Joliet doesn’t offer online betting along with in-person wagering. DraftKings alone, through its Casino Queen operation, was responsible for about 36% of the online professional sports betting handle for the first quarter of 2024, generating about $996 million of the more than $2.75 billion total, and about 37% of the online college sports betting handle, with $314 million of the $831 million coming from the sports betting giant.

One of two FanDuel casino partners in the state, Par-A-Dice Casino was responsible for more than $35 million in online college sports wagering last quarter and $133 million in online pro sports betting handle. However, those amounts were dwarfed by the other FanDuel operator, Fairmount Park, Inc., which generated $224 million in online college sports handle and $1.17 billion in online pro sports handle.

Illinois sports betting reaches inflection point

In the meeting, the gaming board briefly reviewed the history of sports betting in Illinois since its March 2020 inception, noting, “Illinois has firmly established itself among the top three sports wagering jurisdictions in the United States.”

The license renewals come at an interesting inflection point for Illinois sports betting. The Illinois General Assembly has been working with Gov. J.B. Pritzker to assess new tiers of taxes on sports betting operators in the state, including a 40% rate that would affect DraftKings and FanDuel.

Given that FanDuel’s tax bill would increase by 126% and DraftKings’ would rise by 130% under the new rules, it’s possible the two operators would pull out of the state as they’ve threatened, though forthcoming plans for DraftKings at Wrigley Field and FanDuel at the United Center, in addition to the just-approved license renewals, make those threats less likely to manifest.

Online in-state college sports betting ban renews July 1

The current rule on sports betting on Illinois college teams, which amended the initial law in 2021 and was extended to a sunset date of July 1, 2024, was not extended further in the most recent legislative session.

That means the Tier 1 betting that was allowed — specifically, with respect to the state’s college teams, wagers placed in person at a retail sports betting location before an event where the wager was decided solely by that event’s outcome — will no longer be allowed.

Sportsbooks can honor futures wagers placed up to July 1 involving Illinois college teams; they just can’t be placed after that date, pending future General Assembly action.

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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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