Governor JB Pritzker signed a law nearly a year ago that began to allow sports betting in the state. The state had a large gambling expansion, which led to their first sports wager about three months ago.
On Thursday morning, the state launched its first online sportsbook. This now allows gamblers to place bets from their smartphones.
The first retail sportsbook was opened on March 9 by Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. They were also the first to organize mobile betting. They created BetRivers mobile app through their partner Rush Street Interactive.
“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,” Rush Street Interactive president Richard Schwartz said in a statement.
The state law previously made gamblers register in person before being allowed to place bets online. But Governor Pritzker removed that requirement on a temporary basis because of the coronavirus.
Bettors can now register and complete this process 100% online. Other states that have done this, such as New Jersey, are seeing a significant rise in value.
State politicians are looking at this potential revenue as a positive since COVID-19 has created a $2.7 billion hole in the budget. Budget issues haven’t been limited to Illinois with states around the country trying to speed up sports betting legislation.
“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 online product with exciting sports betting options,” Schwartz said. “We will have great customer service with fast payouts and an overall friendly approach that treats every player with honesty and care.”
This couldn’t have happened at a better time for them. The PGA and Premier League have resumed while several other professional sports are planning their return.
Windy City Hopes
Chicago is a big market, and experts believe that sports betting will generate around $100 million annually. Analysts say the state could even rival Nevada for the highest yearly handle of over $5 billion.
As of last week, six other casinos in Illinois have been granted licenses for sports gambling. Lobbyists have created an 18-month period in which industry giants such as DraftKings and FanDuel cannot enter the state.
After that dead period, they will be allowed to bid for a license that will cost $20 million. Barstool Sports and the MGM are both rumored to be looking for a license in the state shortly.
“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,” Schwartz said.
More states need to start thinking in the same manner, especially with the disaster of state budgets. Hopefully, Illinois is just the beginning of a surge of sports betting legalization.