In the continuing saga of how traditionally online-only sports betting platforms will find their way into the Illinois market ahead of an 18-month delay, designed to give local operators a leg up, DraftKings announced on Thursday partner Casino Queen will rebrand as “DraftKings at Casino Queen.” This should allow DraftKings to begin offering sports betting as soon as the Casino Queen gets its provisional sports wagering approval from the Illinois Gaming Board.
The announcement, made via company press release, states that Casino Queen will rebrand both its online platform and physical location in East St. Louis.
The rebranding is, in essence, a workaround to branding rules laid out in the new sports betting law, which requires that casinos “shall only offer internet and mobile sports wagering under the track’s or casino’s brand or a brand owned by certain related entities with an 80% ownership interest when the Act was passed. Displaying multiple brands (including the brands of third-party service providers) is expressly prohibited.”
Branding has been controversial
The IGB in June offered up proposed emergency rules that would allow for some co-branding, and Rush Street Interactive, owner of the Rivers Casino-Des Plaines and the BetRivers.com online platform, has since challenged the proposed change.
Rival FanDuel is planning to use the same strategy with Fairmount Race Track.
“We are excited to be working with Casino Queen to bring our premier sports betting experience to the state and its sports fans,” said Ezra Kucharz, DraftKings Chief Business Officer. “Through this collaboration, we have the opportunity to change how fans engage with the sports they love, while becoming a part of the fabric of Illinois’ rich sports culture.”
DraftKings and Casino Queen announced a market-access deal into Illinois via the Casino Queen in late June.
Update on licensing, temporary operating permits
DraftKings received its Temporary Operating Permit for sports betting from the IGB on July 17, and Casino Queen received its Owners License on June 17. The Casino Queen has not yet been granted provisional sports wagering approval by the IGB. Seven Illinois casinos are currently licensed for sports betting, and five operators have been granted Temporary Operating Permits in the Management Services Provider Category.
None of the three horse race tracks — two of which already have sports betting partners — have received licenses or Temporary Operating Permits.
Currently, the only online operator taking bets in Illinois is BetRivers, which began doing so days after Gov. J.B. Pritzker temporarily lifted the requirement for bettors to register in person for a sports betting account. In an executive order on June 4, Pritzker made remote registration — meaning a consumer can register for a sports betting account via mobile device rather than in person — legal. The length of the order is unclear, but it did remove the opportunity for an 18-month head start for local operators that was written into the law.
The Rivers Casino and the Argosy both opened for retail sports betting in early March, ahead of the shutdown of major professional sports in the face of COVID-19. Both casinos and sportsbooks were shuttered until early July.