Illinois Grants Sports Betting Licenses; BetRivers Launches First Mobile App
Illinois has issued seven master sports wagering licenses to seven casinos, with Rivers Des Plaines (l.) among them, which also launched the first mobile sports app last week. But before bettors can wager, casinos have to be approved to take bets online or through mobile applications.
The newest chapter in Illinois’ sports betting saga occurred June 11, when the Illinois Gaming Board granted master sports wagering licenses to seven casinos (the licenses were deemed temporary before). But bettors still can’t wager on the sports that have returned.
Two days later, Rush Street Interactive launched the state’s first mobile sports betting app.
Gaming board rules require the casinos to separately request approval to begin taking bets online or through mobile applications, platforms that will pull in the majority of betting handle, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
License fees of up to $10 million each, based on a percentage of gross revenue from 2019, could net the state $40 million. Licenses have a term of four years, and are renewable at $1 million.
Of the seven licensed casinos, Rivers in Des Plaines and Argosy Casino Alton took the state’s first-ever legal sports bets under temporary operating permits three months ago, right before the coronavirus crisis stopped casinos and sports. The five other casinos receiving licenses included the Grand Victoria, the Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet, Par-A-Dice, and the Casino Queen.
BetRivers.com will offer players the chance to be among the first sports fans to ever place legal online bets in the state of Illinois. Premier League Soccer begins this week, the NBA, WNBA and NHL are scheduled to resume play next month. Bundesliga soccer, UFC, motorsports and professional golf recently resumed televised events with media reports of major league baseball returning soon. BetRivers.com sites will live stream hundreds of sporting events so that players can bet while they watch the action.
“We are excited to make history in bringing the first online sportsbook to sports fans in our home state just in time as American sports are coming back into action,” said Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Interactive. “While entertainment options are limited as we seek to minimize the spread of the virus, we are focused on BetRivers.com providing sportsbook players with a high-quality on-line product with exciting sports betting options. We will have great customer service with fast payouts and an overall friendly approach that treats every player with honesty and care.”
The licenses start the clock on an 18-month penalty-box period for online-only sportsbooks such as FanDuel and DraftKings, a move designed to give brick-and-mortar casinos a head start over those companies. Then the online-only companies will pay $20 million for initial licensing fees unless they hook up first with an approved licensee. FanDuel has partnered with Boyd Gaming and Par-A-Dice. DraftKings is partnered with Caesars, which has ties to Harrah’s in Joliet.
“Every licensee is treated independently and there is no set timetable to commence wagering. Requests will be granted once received if the licensees meet all necessary requirements,” Gaming Board Policy Director Joe Miller said.
The state’s three horse racing tracks have also applied for sports betting licenses. Venues such as Wrigley Field and the United Center are eligible to apply, but have yet to do so.