Mexico’s Caliente Interactive Could Receive Illinois Sports Betting License

It has not been unusual for sportsbook operators based in other countries to enter the growing U.S. market. However, there has never been one from south of the border. That could change if a company from Mexico gets an Illinois sports betting license. Caliente Interactive is one of three operators to apply for one with the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).

A fourth tried to submit an application, but since it was late, the IGB rejected it. One provider pulled its application, leaving Caliente Interactive and Fubo Gaming. The IGB announced that only Caliente Interactive had met the minimum qualifications for a license during Thursday’s meeting.

That does not mean the state will grant them a license. It just means that they get to move on to the next phase, where the IGB will conduct an investigation into Caliente Interactive. Upon completion of the investigation, if the IGB deems Caliente Interactive is suitable for a license, one will be granted.

The license will cost $20 million and will make them the first sportsbook from Mexico to operate in the U.S.

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Illinois Sports Betting Market Not Saturated

Sports betting was legalized in Illinois in 2020. At first, an in-person registration requirement made it difficult for the industry to grow, but in March 2022, the state lifted the in-person requirement. To no one’s surprise, mobile sports betting activity spiked.

If granted a license, Caliente Interactive will become the eighth mobile operator in Illinois. BetRivers was the first to launch in June 2020. DraftKings and FanDuel were next in August. PointsBet launched about a month late in September.

Barstool was the only sportsbook to launch in Illinois last year. Caesars and BetMGM joined the market a couple of months ago.

Of the seven, the only one not tethered to a retail sports betting location is BetMGM. The IGB granted Bally’s a retail license after taking over Jumer’s Casino and Hotel, renamed Bally’s Quad Cities Casino & Hotel. However, they did not get a mobile operator’s license.

Illinois is awarding three mobile-only licenses. If Caliente Interactive gets one, a supplemental selection process will decide the fate of the other two.

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.