BetRivers Becomes First Legal Online Sportsbook in Illinois


Photo credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Chicago Bears players Mitchell Trubisky & Tarik Cohen

Jun 18, 2020, 10:57 AM EDT

As of today, legal online sports betting is live in Illinois.

Rush Street Interactive and Rivers Casino Des Plaines have teamed up to launch the BetRivers online sportsbook in the Prairie State.

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Governor J.B. Pritzker previously suspended the required in-person registration for online betting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Illinois residents can simply register from their mobile devices or computers to gain access to online betting.

“While entertainment options are limited as we seek to minimize the spread of the virus, we are focused on providing sportsbook players with a high-quality online product with exciting sports betting options,” Rush Street Interactive president Richard Schwartz said in a release. “We will have great customer service with fast payouts and an overall friendly approach that treats every player with honesty and care.”

The timing of BetRivers’ launch in the Land of Lincoln couldn’t have worked out much better.

Sports around the world have started to return in recent weeks, with the PGA Tour and Premier League resuming their seasons within the past week.

“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.

When Pritzker suspended in-person registration for online betting, BetRivers was poised as the only book that could take advantage. It already owned a license and held online platforms in other states.

Now that it’s up and running, it leaves a trail for other books to follow.

As of last week, six other casinos were approved for licenses in Illinois, including Argosy Casino, which is owned by Penn National. It has the intention to bring the Barstool Sports brand into the sportsbook world, but it hasn’t yet gone live. MGM bought the Grand Victoria Casino in 2018, and they’ll push to get in on the lucrative Illinois market as soon as possible.

While Rush Sports Interactive and Penn Gaming are the only two to hold temporary operating permits, FanDuel, PointsBet, American Wagering and Crown IL Gaming have applied for licenses.

The suspension of in-person registration will only help these books and the state.

States like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana that have abandoned in-person registration have seen significant value in doing so.

Close in proximity to Illinois, Iowa and Indiana both offer online betting, but Iowa requires residents to register in brick-and-mortar casinos. Indiana allows registration online.

Iowa sportsbooks accumulated a revenue of $22,433,625 since September 2019, while Indiana books boasted a revenue of $72,419,642 in the same time span.

For now, Illinois seems to find itself on the fast track to regaining a key revenue stream in online betting.

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