Nearly a year after the legalization of sports betting in Illinois, state bettors can now place wagers via their smartphones following the Thursday launch of the state’s first betting app.
Rivers Casino Des Plaines, the gambling venue that opened Illinois’ first retail sportsbook this past March, made history one more time as it became the first locally licensed operator to go live with a digital sports gambling product.
The casino operates the BetRivers betting app through its partner Rush Street Interactive.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker legalized sports betting last summer as part of a sweeping gambling reform that aims to provide funding for his $45 billion capital plan that involves rebuilding the state’s infrastructure.
Rivers Casino Des Plaines and downstate Argosy Casino Alton were the first to launch retail sports betting in early March. However, the two casinos were able to accept bets only briefly as Illinois’ gambling venues were ordered to close on March 16 to help curb the advance of the coronavirus. It is still unknown when the properties will be allowed to resume operations.
Commenting on the launch of their digital sportsbook, Rush Street Interactive President Richard Schwartz said Thursday that they 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.”
Recently Signed Order Paved the Way for Earlier Start of Mobile Betting
Under Illinois’ sports betting law, bettors must register in-person at the state’s casinos, racetracks, or sports facilities in order to be able to place bets online. The closure of Illinois’ gambling venues and sports venues would have delayed the start of mobile betting indefinitely.
However, Gov. Pritzker signed earlier this month an executive order that allowed bettors to register for digital sports betting remotely. The order removed the in-person registration requirement only temporarily.
It is still unknown when Rivers Casino Des Plaines’ betting app will have some competition. The Illinois Gaming Board last week licensed six other land-based casinos around the estate. Each of these can request approval from the regulatory body to start offering digital wagering.
A spokesperson for the Gaming Board said Thursday that they have not received other requests for online sports betting yet.
According to early projections, sports betting could eventually generate $100 million in annual taxes for the state, which Gov. Pritzker plans to use to fund his Rebuild Illinois plan.
For now, only Illinois’ land-based casinos, racetracks, and sports venues are allowed to offer sports betting at retail facilities and online. An 18-month “penalty box” rule prevents online-only companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel from being able to apply for and obtain licenses from the local regulator.
In addition, such companies will have to pay a whopping $20 million for their licenses, while the state’s gambling venues have only paid a fraction of that amount to obtain permission to conduct sports betting activities.
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