On Thursday, BetRivers.com announced that they would be launching their mobile sportsbook at 10 am CST. BetRivers will be the first mobile sportsbook in Illinois. Players are signing up from home after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order that suspended in-person registration to create a betting account.
Since March, Illinois casinos are closed, so bettors have not been able to create accounts, or place bets. The June 4 executive order sped up the process the get players to register for accounts. Last week, the Illinois Gaming Board granted seven Illinois casinos sports betting licenses. Also, the IGB gave BetRivers approval to launch its mobile platform.
Richard Schwartz, President of Rush Street Interactive, said, “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.” Rivers Casino was the first to accept a sports bet before COVID-19 closed casinos across the state. Now, BetRivers will be the first sportsbook in Illinois to take a mobile sports bet.
Timing of the Mobile Launch
Illinois has put in hurdles throughout the legalization of sports betting. The process has legalized sports betting slowing down growth in Illinois. However, Gov. Pritzker has done what he’s can to jumpstart the process.
The executive order signed on June 4 is helping bettors sign up while casinos remain closed. Also, the IGB had its first meeting since January and gave out sports betting licenses to casinos across the state.
The process of launching mobile betting in Illinois was going to take time. Now, Illinois has its first mobile site up as of Thursday. The timing of the mobile launch could be perfect for BetRivers.
Right now, individual sports like the UFC, PGA, and NASCAR are holding events on U.S. soil. Across the world, other leagues like the KBO in Korea and Bundesliga in Germany have restarted amid the pandemic.
Illinois bettors have events to place bets on when they sign up. Also, Premier Soccer League restarts this week, along with the NBA, NHL, and WNBA re-launching next month. The Coronavirus may have given Illinois a chance to hash out some issues with sports betting.
The process went from at least 18-months to launch mobile betting to starting it on June 18. Overall, this is a big day for Illinois bettors.
Mobile Betting in Illinois
With BetRivers the first to launch mobile betting in Illinois, everyone turns to who will be next. Seven casinos were granted licenses to launch sportsbooks. Now, it’s a race to see who can set up shop next.
BetRivers may have the edge over competition around Illinois. They were the only sportsbook to launch before the COVID-19 shutdown. Now, they’re the first to launch their mobile betting platform. With casinos still closed, casinos and sportsbooks will need to get customers to sign up for mobile accounts.
Permission still needs to be granted by the IGB, but they should be thorough with their process to get more sportsbooks running sooner than later. Right now, casinos are not allowed to open until Illinois is in stage four of Restore, Illinois. The earliest date to re-open would be June 26. If Restore Illinois does not get to stage four soon, then the IGB will need to help casinos out.
Next Sportsbooks to launch
The next sportsbook to launch a mobile site will most likely be Argosy Casino in Alton. Argosy was supposed to launch its sportsbook on March 16, but the coronavirus shut casinos down across the state. Now, the sportsbook is unable to launch until it is safe for customers.
For casinos and sportsbooks to reopen, Illinois must enter stage four in Restore Illinois. This will allow these places to reopen with limited capacity as the world fights COVID-19. However, reopening casinos will help generate revenue for the state, and bring back some business.
Argosy was the only other sportsbook expected to launch after BetRivers launched its retail site on March 9. With a sportsbook waiting launch, Argosy is the only casino that has the potential to launch a mobile betting site.
Last week, Illinois awarded seven casinos sports betting licenses. Only BetRivers and Argosy had sportsbooks ready to go, so it only makes sense that these two will lead the pack in Illinois mobile betting.
Other sportsbooks will need to set up shop and create their mobile device before a potential launch.
DraftKings and FanDuel in Illinois
In Illinois, there is an 18-month “penalty box” period for major U.S. retailers like FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbooks. The state decided that this would be the best way to jumpstart local sportsbooks is to give them a chance to build clientele before the big players enter the Illinois market.
The clock for mobile retailers started last week when the Illinois Gaming Board approved of sports betting licenses to seven casinos. Now, mobile sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel will be able to launch in December 2021.
The large U.S. retailers will be chomping at the bit to be ready to go the day the “penalty box” period is over. DraftKings has already been in talks with Arlington Race Track to form a partnership and launch its sportsbook with them.
One issue mobile sportsbooks might have is paying to get in. Illinois is making these large retailers pay a $20 million licensing fee to enter the Illinois market. The state hopes that this might detract some retailers from entering, or waiting longer before they enter. The goal is to help the casinos around the state create more revenue. If more revenue goes to local casinos, then the state will also get more.
However, bettors might not want to stay with the little guy if mobile betting isn’t user friendly through them. BetRivers is the first to launch a mobile betting site. However, they currently do not have an app for iPhone users. Mobile sports betting apps will be more helpful to players instead of using safari every time to place a bet.
Little things like this might make or break local sportsbooks. However, time is still on their side. The “penalty box” period will help local sportsbooks hash out the kinks in their sites and offerings to make sure they retain as many clients as possible.
Having to compete with DraftKings and FanDuel might not work out for small books like BetRivers if players aren’t satisfied with the site. However, time is on their side and they can take advantage of this time to make the best mobile device possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Right now, players can register for Illinois sports betting accounts at BetRivers.com. Sign up is an easy three-step process and a player is able to use their account right away. Bettors can sign up in person at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.
BetRivers is the only mobile sportsbook available. They launched its mobile platform on June 18, and are the first sportsbook to run online. Also, BetRivers was the first retail sportsbook to go live in Illinois on March 9.
Yes. BetRivers will match a player’s first deposit up to $250. Also, they have Yes/No prop bets available for Chicago sports fans. Some of the bets include Nick Foles week one starter, Cubs win National League, Luis Robert wins AL Rookie of the Year.
Yes, but sportsbooks still need approval from the Illinois Gaming Board. Seven Illinois casinos were granted Master Sports Wagering licenses that allows sportsbooks to ask for mobile betting approval. Argosy Casino Sportsbook in Alton could be the next sportsbook to go mobile. They were expected to launch March 16 before the COVID-19 shutdown.
Illinois put in an “18-month” penalty box period for national sportsbooks. Illinois concluded that this would help local sportsbooks build their clientele before big U.S. retailers entered the market. DraftKings and FanDuel will be allowed to enter in December 2020.
Yes and no. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and Argosy Casino in Alton have retail sportsbooks. However, the coronavirus shut down all casinos in Illinois. Casinos and sportsbooks are allowed to reopen when Illinois gets to stage four in Restore Illinois. Until then, mobile betting is only offered.
Illinois allows any sports to be bet on. Right now, players who sign up with BetRivers can bet on the UFC, PGA, Bundesliga, and other events happening globally. Also, bettors will be able to bet on the NBA, NHL, and WNBA when the leagues return next month.
Governor J.B. Pritzker legalized sports betting as part of a larger capital bill in what became an extended session of the general assembly. The new sports betting law allows for both physical and state-wide mobile betting. However, mobile betting can not begin until 18 months after the launch of retail sports betting, unless a master license is obtained. This is the state’s way of keeping out the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings from operating on their own, giving local casinos a leg up on the competition.
Before the current bill passed, there were a few others that Illinois considered since the PASPA decision in 2018. The first bill was HB4214. HB4214 was actually introduced prior to the PASPA ruling. In January of 2018, HB4214 was introduced by Representative Lou Lang. The bill was merely an attempt for Illinois to begin a discussion on the issue of legal sports betting.
A few more bills were introduced between Lang’s HB4214 and the bill that Pritzker signed into law. The most notable of those was perhaps SB3432. This bill was introduced in February of 2018 by former NFL player Napolean Harris. Senator Harris’ bill was the first, and only, in the state that included the highly debated “integrity fee” that the major sporting leagues were seeking from each state that legalized sports betting.
SB3432 would have allowed for sports betting to operate at facilities authorized under the Riverboat Gambling Act. It also would have allowed for both in-person and mobile betting. Taxes were set at 12.5% of gross sports wagering revenue. The bill eventually died in January 2019.
The bill that Pritzker eventually signed into law, SB690, was an 816-page bill with a $45 billion infrastructure plan. Aside from legalizing sports betting, the bill also called for six new casinos in the state, among other things.
One notable aspect of sports betting in Illinois is the “bad actor” clause. This is the clause that keeps the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings out of Illinois for at least 18 months. This penalty period gives local casinos a chance to get a leg up on the online giants. Out-of-state providers are allowed to partner with in-state racetracks, casinos, or sporting venues during the 18-month period. After this, online operators would be allowed to operate independently. An online wagering license in Illinois is set a $20 million.
Bettors will be required to visit a physical casino in-person to apply for an online betting account. After signing up in-person, bettors will be able to place mobile wagers from anywhere inside Illinois state lines.
The slow and steady approach in Illinois has caused the state to fall behind the neighboring competition. Sports betting launched to the West in Iowa on August 15th. Indiana, to the East, saw sports betting begin in early September. Tennesee to the south has sports betting legalized via mobile-only. To the Northeast, Michigan is expected to legalize sports betting in the near future.
With two neighboring states already offering sports betting, Illinois is losing money with each passing month between now and when sports betting is launched. Once sports betting does go live, the amount of out-of-state traffic will most likely be limited as well. Residents from specific areas in Missouri, Kentucky, and Wisconsin will be among the only out-of-state residents traveling across state lines to bet in Illinois. Even traffic from those states will be limited as they each border a state that already has legal sports betting launched.
Slow and steady may win the race in some aspects but Illinois will be far behind other states in its region. There is even a possibility that a state like Michigan could be live before Illinois if things move quickly for Michigan.