FanDuel is lined up on the runway and will be the next mobile sportsbook to take flight in Illinois, after the Illinois Gaming Board confirmed on Tuesday that FanDuel’s partner, Par-A-Dice Casino, filed its “go-live” paperwork on Aug. 19. The IGB has been taking two-three weeks to approve such requests. Three weeks from Aug. 19 is Sept. 9, one day before the 2020 season opener on a Thursday night between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, meaning there could be three mobile/online platforms for Illinois bettors to choose from at the start of NFL season.
The Chicago Bears kick off on Sunday, Sept. 13, against division rival Detroit.
The application is for mobile/online wagering only. Par-A-Dice has not filed its Rule 1100 or “Commencement of Wagering” request for in-person sports betting at its East Peoria location yet.
Plans changed, and FD will co-brand with Par-A-Dice
Last Friday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker renewed an Executive Order that allows for remote registration — which means a bettor can register for a digital account from a mobile device or computer — until Sept. 19. The Illinois sports betting law calls for in-person registration, meaning that would-be bettors must visit a casino or other sportsbook venue to register. The renewal was the latest change to remote registration rules that started on June 4, when Pritzker initially rolled back in-person registration. He renewed that order once, but did not on July 27.
The newest renewal comes on the heels of lobbying in Springfield as well as a grassroots campaign by FanDuel rival DraftKings, which has been live online and at its retail location in East St. Louis for 20 days.
By going live with via Par-A-Dice Casino — which is possible because of a previous deal between FanDuel and Par-A-Dice owner Boyd Gaming — FanDuel is at least temporarily giving up the opportunity to put its name at the top of branding, like competitor DraftKings was able to do with DraftKings at Casino Queen. But it’s likely that the idea that DraftKings is live and remote registration is at least temporarily available in Illinois was enough to push FanDuel to deviate from its initial plans and enter the Illinois market as soon as possible.
By way of background, FanDuel planned to partner with Fairmount Race Course, and the track renamed itself the “FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing” in January. The renaming allows FanDuel to have top billing in marketing and advertising materials. The company apparently plans to move forward with Fairmount as well, and the IGB says operators can have multiple retail locations or online platforms.
Competitor DraftKings made a similar deal with Casino Queen in East St. Louis earlier this year and on Aug. 5 launched retail and digital sports betting under the DraftKings at Casino Queen banner. FanDuel will not be able to do the same with Par-A-Dice, and sources there could not say what the branding would look like.
‘Par-A-Dice SportsBook Powered By FanDuel’ a possibility
That said, the IGB has been tinkering with branding rules over the last few months. Under the current rules, it would seem possible that the branding could be “Par-A-Dice Sportsbook Powered By FanDuel,” or something similar, but the Par-A-Dice name would have to be in the first position.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) August 19, 2020
Being first to market in a remote-registration state is critical for FanDuel and DraftKings, as recouping market share from each other is costly and time consuming. FanDuel launched four months ahead of DraftKings in Pennsylvania, and in December 2019 it had handle that was more than three times what DraftKings drew. In Indiana, DraftKings got a 19-day head start, and in November 2019 had handle 2.7 times bigger than FanDuel’s. By February — the last month before COVID-19 shutdowns — the gap had closed, but FanDuel was still more than $10 million behind DraftKings.
Throughout all the changes to sports betting registration, and until Aug. 5, Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers mobile/online platform was the only option for Illinois bettors. BetRivers went live online in June 2020 and along with Argosy Casino Alton, opened brick-and-mortar locations in March 2020. To date, six physical sportsbooks are open: Rivers Casino-Des Plaines, Argosy Casino Alton (Penn National), DraftKings at Casino Queen, Grand Victoria Casino (William Hill), and Hollywood Casinos in Joliet and Aurora (Penn National).