BetRivers is First Online Sportsbook to Launch in Illinois

  • Rush Street Interactive and Rivers Casino partnered for the online betting venture
  • The Illinois Gaming Board handed out master sports betting licenses just last week
  • Bettors can sign up for an online betting account remotely thanks to a recent executive order
Person betting on sports on a laptop
BetRivers, created out of a partnership between Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and Rush Street Interactive, has launched the first online sportsbook in Illinois. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A new era

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines launched its BetRivers online betting app on June 18, making it the first legal online sportsbook in Illinois. This comes just a week after the Illinois Gaming Board granted seven casinos in the state a master sports betting license.

We are excited to make history”

Speaking about Thursday’s launch was Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Interactive (RSI), the partner of Rivers Casino for mobile betting. He 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.”

Remote registration

People can sign up for an online sports betting account at home after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued executive order on June 4. The original gaming regulations required in-person registration for online sports betting, but the coronavirus pandemic has prompted changes to the rules.

To place an online wager, customers must be at least 21-years-old and be located inside state lines.

The casino’s retail sportsbook was also quick out of the blocks, being the first to accept a legal sports bet in Illinois on March 9.

No in-state competitors yet

Rivers Casino was clearly well-prepared to receive an online sports betting license and was able to flip the switch quickly. RSI was already the first to launch an online sportsbook in Indiana, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.

There is no indication as to when the six other casinos that have licenses are going to launch their own offerings. Each must still request approval from the Illinois Gaming Board, but none have as of Thursday morning. With neighboring Indiana already having online sports betting, Illinois sportsbooks will hope to take back a bit of business.

Last week’s issuance of the master licenses started an 18-month “penalty box” period for online-only sportsbooks such as FanDuel and DraftKings before they can enter the market.

There will be three of these online-only licenses available, each costing $20m. There may be a potential work-around for these operators, however, if they partner with a sports stadium, racetrack, or casino in the state. 

Casinos yet to reopen

Illinois casinos were closed on March 16 due to the pandemic, shortly after retail sportsbooks launched. There is no date set for their reopening. Many other states have already reopened their casinos or at least announced a date for reopening.  

With major sports leagues now slowly preparing to taking the field once again, online sportsbooks are looking forward to getting back to health. The PGA Tour, NASCAR, and the UFC have all returned to action, while the NHL and NBA are soon starting training camps to resume their seasons.