Three Illinois Casinos Submit Sports Betting Applications

  • Applications received from the Argosy Casino, Rivers Casino, and Elgin Riverboat Resort
  • Sportsbooks will be allowed to open as soon as approval has been given
  • The Illinois Gaming Board expects to receive more applications in the coming weeks
Chicago downtown at sunrise
The Illinois Gaming Board has received three sports betting license applications since the process began in December, with more expected in the coming weeks. [Image:]

First submissions since process began

According to the Illinois Gaming Board, only three casinos have submitted applications for sports betting licenses in the state to date.

All three of these applications were submitted last week, the first to be received by the gambling board since the licensing application process began in December. The board also confirmed that two of these facilities are casinos located in the suburbs of Chicago.

first to be received by the gambling board since the licensing application process began in December

The applicants are the Argosy Casino in Alton, the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, and the Elgin Riverboat Resort. As soon as licenses are approved by the board, such facilities would be allowed to offer sports betting services.

Interesting applicants

The Argosy Casino was the first casino to open in Illinois three decades ago. It is now aiming to launch the first sportsbook in the state this year. The Argosy Casino submitted its application on January 23. The two other casinos submitted their applications one day later on January 24. 

The Elgin Riverboat Casino was the first riverboat casinos to open in the state, doing so in 1991 on the Mississippi River. It is currently owned by Penn National Gaming. It generates the least revenue for a casino in the state, with numbers declining rapidly in the past few years. It will be hoping that a sports betting license could turn things around.

Rivers Casino operates under the ownership of Churchill Downs. It has already built its sports bar and lounge in anticipation of opening a sportsbook. It is currently the highest-grossing gambling business in Illinois, with revenue of $440m reported in 2018. It is the only casino operating in the state that has reported growth in recent years.

More applications expected soon

While only three operators have applied to date, the gambling board is expecting a lot more applications to arrive on its desk in the coming weeks.

The 10 casinos and three racetracks operating in the state are all eligible to apply for a sports betting license. Seven sporting venues are also welcome to apply for these licenses.

Finally, as part of the legislation that legalized sports betting, the six new casino licenses will also be able to apply for a sports betting license. 

The likes of FanDuel and DraftKings, however, must wait for 18 months after the first sportsbooks open before obtaining a license. This will also come with a hefty $20m license fee.

Uncertainty remains over regulations

While sports betting legislation was signed seven months ago, rules for the sector are still somewhat up in the air. One of the main points up for debate is whether or not Illinois residents will be able to place bets on home-state teams, such as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls. 

The Illinois Gaming Board has yet to issue licenses for betting technology suppliers or enact deals for exclusive sports league data. The goal remains for the first sportsbooks to be open in time for March Madness, which is scheduled to begin on March 17, 2020.

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