FanDuel Partnering with Par-A-Dice Casino for Illinois Mobile Sports Betting Entry

  • Par-A-Dice Casino filed mobile betting paperwork on August 19
  • FanDuel and Par-A-Dice are looking to go live by the NFL season
  • FanDuel originally intended its first launch to be with Fairmount Park
  • Partnering with a casino allows FanDuel to avoid the Illinois “penalty box”
sports bettor celebrating
Par-A-Dice Casino has filed the paperwork to get its joint mobile sports betting venture with FanDuel in Illinois approved in time for the NFL season. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Aiming for NFL season

It appears that FanDuel is on track to launch its mobile sportsbook in Illinois just in time for the start of the National Football League (NFL) season. According to SportsHandle, Par-A-Dice Casino, FanDuel’s brick-and-mortar partner in the state, has filed the required paperwork with the Illinois Gaming Board to allow it to begin offering online and mobile sports betting.

puts a possible go-live date at September 9, exactly one day before the NFL season kicks off

The East Peoria casino submitted the forms on August 19, a key date because the Board tends to take two to three weeks to approve applications. Three weeks from August 19 puts a possible go-live date at September 9, exactly one day before the NFL season kicks off. Football season is the biggest money-making season for American sportsbooks.

FanDuel jumped the gun a bit last week, inadvertently posting an Illinois sports betting-related page on its website before anything was confirmed. It was clearly meant as an invisible placeholder, as the URL even included “sportsbook-IL-hidden.” The page was taken down not long after it was published, but it is now back, without the “hidden” part, indicating that the operator is confident that the countdown is on. It is offering a $50 bonus promotion to Illinois customers who sign up early.

Love the one you’re with

It sounds like the launch with Par-A-Dice was not necessarily FanDuel’s first choice for its Illinois entry, but it is the best choice for the operator given the current situation. FanDuel originally planned to launch its sports betting product with Fairmount Park. Fairmount even went so far as to file the paperwork with the Illinois Secretary of State to change its name to “FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing” in January. The advantage this presented for FanDuel was sole billing for the sportsbook.

it looks like its brand will not get top billing

But Fairmount has yet to receive an Illinois Master Sports Betting License, so FanDuel went with “Plan B” to get to market before the football season begins. In August 2018, the company inked a sports betting deal with Boyd Gaming, the owner of Par-a-Dice, hence FanDuel’s pairing with the casino. The downside for FanDuel is that it looks like its brand will not get top billing.

Illinois’ current rules state that casinos can only offer internet and mobile betting “under the track’s or casino’s brand or a brand owned by certain related entities with an 80% ownership interest” and that “displaying multiple brands” is not allowed.

Thus, FanDuel cannot be the brand for Par-A-Dice’s sportsbooks. SportsHandle surmises that it can likely still have its name on the product somewhere, but it would be something along the lines of “Par-A-Dice Sportsbook Powered By FanDuel.”

DraftKings’ Illinois offering is called DraftKings at Casino Queen. It was able to get around the naming restriction by striking a deal with Casino Queen to completely rebrand the casino as a whole. Thus, since the actual casino is now named DraftKings at Casino Queen, its mobile sports betting app can have the DraftKings name.

Online operators avoid the penalty box

Illinois regulations also impose an 18-month “penalty box” on digital-only sportsbook operators. Thus, sites like DraftKings and FanDuel are technically not permitted to operate mobile and internet sportsbooks in the state for a year and a half after the first license is issued. Both companies, however, have dodged this restriction.

DraftKings and FanDuel are able to jump into the Illinois market using the casinos’ master licenses

The casinos are allowed to partner with software providers, which is exactly what Casino Queen and Par-A-Dice did. Because of this, DraftKings and FanDuel are able to jump into the Illinois market using the casinos’ master licenses.

They also saved money. A mobile-only license costs $20m, but a Management Service Provider License, which is what the two sites were granted, costs half that.

The idea behind the penalty box clause was to both give local casinos a headstart over the digital-only giants and penalize DraftKings and FanDuel for operating daily fantasy sports contests in the state illegally.