DraftKings Goes Live in Illinois; You Can Sign Up Online, But Must Make First Bet in Person


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The Illinois sports betting market just got hotter.

DraftKings at Casino Queen is officially live in the Prairie State, joining BetRivers as one of two available online sportsbooks.

DraftKings entered the market by striking a deal with Casino Queen, allowing it to avoid an 18-month delay intended to set back online-only operators and give land-based casinos like Rivers a head start.

The issue is that bettors can sign up online (you can claim $1,000 in sign-up bonuses here), but must place their first bet at DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Ill. — more than four hours southwest of Chicago.

After activating in person by placing a bet on Casino Queen’s WiFi, bettors can wager entirely online.

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker suspended mandatory in-person registration requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early June, but the mandates were put back in place on July 26. BetRivers went live during that window and got a big head start on acquisition.

As of now, bettors will be able to do everything full online around January of 2022.

DraftKings won’t do near the volume it would have now given the location the casino.

That will also make things more difficult for companies such as FanDuel, William Hill, PointsBet, and Barstool Sportsbook, which hoped to enter the Illinois market in the near future. PointsBet may have the biggest edge because its physical location at Hawthorne Race Course is just 10 miles from downtown Chicago.

Although the in-person registration hurts, Illinois could become one of the hottest sports betting markets in the country.

With Chicago in its back pocket, the Land of Lincoln has the six-largest population in the nation with five professional sports teams across the country’s four major leagues.

Either way, DraftKings set itself up for success.

With only one other online sportsbook in the market, DraftKings will find its fair share of users, and that number will only increase in the future.

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