DraftKings Strikes Deal to Enter Illinois Sports Betting Market

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Denise Truscello/Getty Images for DraftKings

Online sports betting launched in Illinois two weeks ago, and a major player is now entering the market.

DraftKings has reached a multi-year deal with Casino Queen to run a retail sportsbook and mobile app in the Prairie State.

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By striking the deal with Casino Queen, DraftKings avoided an 18-month delay to enter the Illinois market.

Sportsbooks in brick-and-mortar casinos were the only ones allowed to operate when the state launched sports betting in March, leaving online-only companies 540 days behind.

Now, DraftKings will look to have the best of both worlds.

The Illinois sports betting landscape changed significantly in early June when Governor J.B. Pritzker suspended mandatory in-person registration due to the COVID-19 crisis, allowing residents to register directly from mobile devices or computers.

BetRivers became the first operational online sportsbook less than two weeks later.

While the exact date of its launch remains unknown, DraftKings managed to make its way into the Illinois market at the right time.

Pritzker’s suspension of in-person registration will surely play a pivotal role in getting its mobile app off the ground, and it remains to be seen whether or not the state will ever go back to in-person registration.

If DraftKings launches in the Land of Lincoln by mid-July, it will have planted itself in the state just before the return of the NBA and MLB.

With the sixth-largest population in the country, third-largest city, and five professional sports teams across the four major leagues, Illinois could quickly become a hot market, just as Colorado has in the past two months.

DraftKings and a slew of its competitors have taken notice.

Seven casinos have been approved for licenses, but only two have been granted provisionary status.

Casino Rivers Des Plaines teamed with Rush Street Interactive to bring BetRivers in, while Argosy Casino — owned by Penn National — plans to bring a Barstool Sports-branded sportsbook into the market.

FanDuel could make the jump into the Illinois market, as it applied for a license in February. The company has also been in talks to purchase racetrack Fairmount Park to receive a sports betting license and match DraftKings’ entry, according to SportsHandle.

Heading into the return of American sports, DraftKings has solidified itself in Illinois, leaving others on the outside looking in.

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