Unibet Sportsbook Comes To Illinois After Securing Market Access With Penn

Written By Joe Boozell on September 8, 2020 - Last Updated on December 8, 2020

Unibet sportsbook is coming to Illinois, Kindred announced on Tuesday.

It will partner with Penn National Gaming to pursue an Illinois sports betting license through Argosy Casino Alton. Argosy launched its retail sportsbook in March without an online partner.

The Kindred-Penn deal also gives Unibet access to pursue licensing in Ohio through Hollywood Casino.

“Extending our footprint in the US by establishing our brand in two key states like Illinois and Ohio is very exciting for us,” said Manuel Stan, senior vice president of Kindred US, in a statement.

Both agreements span for 10 years. Unibet is already live in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Unibet timeline unclear

Argosy’s retail sportsbook is already open, but Kindred will need to be approved for a sports betting license by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) before it can operate.

Stan hasn’t offered a definitive launch timeline yet but said the goal is to go live “as soon as possible.” He added that Illinois is the next state where Unibet plans to launch.

Kindred has had early success in the US market. Its gross revenue from Pennsylvania and New Jersey reached $7.7 million in the second quarter.

That was up 131% from the first quarter, per company reports.

Still room in a potentially robust Illinois market

It’s no secret that Illinois has the potential to post gaudy betting numbers, especially if mobile registration extends beyond Sept. 19.

Currently, there are only three online sportsbooks in the state: DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers.

PointsBet will likely be the fourth, but after that, it’s a bit of a mystery.

For reference, neighboring Indiana currently has eight online sportsbooks, and more are on the way.

It’s not an apples to apples comparison, as Indiana has fully embraced online registration, whereas Illinois hasn’t. But a book, such as Unibet, could succeed in the Land of Lincoln if it launches within that next tier after PointsBet.

Of course, the Sept. 19 date looms large for Illinois sports betting operators. If in-person registration returns, Unibet will likely be vying for the St. Louis market, as Alton is almost a five-hour drive from Chicago.

St. Louis and Alton, however, are only about 25 miles apart.

With that said, it would have stiff competition in DraftKings at Casino Queen, which is in East St. Louis. DK is a bigger name in the states and was the second online sportsbook to market in Illinois.

What this likely confirms for Barstool

Barstool Sports, of course, has a deal with Penn, too.

Penn operates three casinos in Illinois: Argosy Casino Alton, Hollywood Casino Aurora and Hollywood Casino Joliet.

All three have open retail sportsbooks, but none currently have a mobile presence.

When the Hollywood sportsbooks opened, several Barstool Sports accounts promoted them on social media. So it would seem that once the Barstool sportsbook is ready for launch, it will pursue market access via one of those casinos now that Argosy has its own dance partner.

Barstool is soft launching in Pennsylvania next week, but its Illinois plans aren’t as far along.

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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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