PointsBet Nabs Illinois Sports Betting License; Plans for August Launch

The Illinois Gaming Board has voted to allow a new sports betting provider to launch in the state.

The board on Thursday, July 30 granted Hawthorne Race Course Inc. and its Australian partner PointsBet a master sports wagering license. PointsBet plans to launch an online sportsbook in The Prairie State by the end of August 2020. PointsBet will compete with BetRivers, the state’s only live online sports betting site. 

More Expansion For PointsBet

In addition to its Illinois sportsbook launch, PointsBet plans to open three off-track betting facilities in the Chicagoland area. The company says it will announce those locations prior to their individual launches. 

PointsBet is expanding its reach in other states, too. The Illinois launch will be followed by PointsBet sportsbooks in Colorado and Michigan.

In-Person Requirement Gives PointsBet Illinois A Leg Up

PointsBet is well-positioned for success in Illinois, especially considering the location of its land-based partner Hawthorne Race Course. 

In June, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker temporarily suspended the in-person registration requirement for online sportsbooks. Originally, online-only sign-ups weren’t slated to come to Illinois until 2021, 18 months after the first sportsbook launch in the state. Pritzker’s order came on the heels of months-long casino closures in Illinois due to the Covid-19 pandemic. BetRivers, the only online sportsbook live at the time, was able to take advantage of the suspension and allow online-only sign-ups. 

Just this past week, though, Pritzker allowed the temporary lift to lapse. In-person registration is once again an Illinois requirement, and that gives PointsBet a slight edge on incoming competitors like DraftKings. 

Hawthorne Race Course is located approximately eight miles from downtown Chicago, only a short drive for the 75% of Illinois’ population that calls Chicagoland home. BetRivers’ land-based location is located in Des Plaines, about an 18-mile trek from the Chicago downtown area. Both properties make in-person registration relatively easy for Chicago-dwelling sports bettors.

Meanwhile, DraftKings has partnered with Casino Queen in East St. Louis. The in-person requirement is expected to hamper DraftKings’ Illinois performance when it launches. Though Casino Queen is an easy travel destination for much of southern Illinois, DraftKings will miss out on millions of potential Chicago registrants until the requirement is lifted. 

FanDuel is in a similar position to DraftKings, if recent rumors are to be believed. The company is reportedly in discussions to purchase Fairmount Park Race Track in Collinsville, Illinois to secure its sports betting license. Fairmount Park sits near the Illinois-Missouri border, almost 300 miles from Chicago. 

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based freelance writer in the gambling, media, and entertainment space. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier. Cole writes for a number of online and print publications, including The Quill To Live, a book review site.