William Hill Enters Illinois Online Sports Betting Market

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

Sep 15, 2020, 10:36 AM EDT

It’s been a big week for William Hill and an even bigger last month for the state of Illinois.

After launching in West Virginia and Colorado within the past week, William Hill has taken its app to the fast-growing Illinois sports betting market.

William Hill becomes the fifth sportsbook to launch an app in the Prairie State, joining BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet.

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Luckily for William Hill, it launched during a time in which Illinois users can register for a sports betting account online.

That wasn’t the case when DraftKings first launched in the state.

Governor J.B. Pritzker initially signed an executive order that repealed in-person registration requirements in early June. But he changed his mind on July 26, putting the in-person mandates back in place.

Less than a month later, Pritzker reinstated the executive order, helping DraftKings — and eventually FanDuel and PointsBet as well — immensely.

BetRivers received a head start in terms of customer acquisition by launching its online sportsbook in June during Pritzker’s initial executive order.

Now, William Hill will need to do whatever it can to catch up to its four competitors.

William Hill received its first taste of the Illinois sports betting market on Aug. 3, when the company opened its first sportsbook in the state at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Ill.

In-person registration was required at the time of launch, so its location — less than an hour outside of Chicago — helped. And that could be important if Pritzker decides to go back to in-person registration again at some point.

“Grand Victoria Casino is located just outside of Chicago, where some of the most passionate sports fans in the country live,” President of Retail Operations David Grolman said in a release after the in-person sportsbook launched. “I’m looking forward to seeing the community come together to watch their favorite teams as we welcome back the return of our favorite professional sports.”

William Hill immediately planned to launch online after the retail sportsbook launched, pending regulatory approval.

Thanks to its brick-and-mortar sportsbook, the company avoided an 18-month “penalty box” that was put in place in Illinois to give a head start to land-based operations over online-only sportsbooks.

With five online sportsbooks now in the Land of Lincoln, pressure will increase for other books like BetMGM to launch in the market.

Illinois has grown quickly with its population of 12.7 million people, which is the second-most in a state with legal online sports betting behind only Pennsylvania.

William Hill made the cut right at the beginning of football season, so it will surely enjoy the business it receives from Chicago Bears fans throughout the state.

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