Australian-based bookmaker PointsBet got its Temporary Operating Permit in Illinois on Tuesday, according to the Illinois Gaming Board website. The company is the third Management Services Provider to get temporary approval through the state behind Rush Street Interactive and Penn National.
PointsBet, which is currently operating in Indiana, Iowa and New Jersey, is partnered with Hawthorne Race Course, which is awaiting approval for the Organizational License it applied for in March. None of the three racetracks have been licensed or issued Temporary Operating Permits, while seven retail casinos have been licensed.
The new permit makes it possible that PointsBet could be accepting bets in Illinois by the start of the NFL season, but when it can proceed depends on when Hawthorne Race Course’s Organizational License is approved and then when the IGB grants Hawthorne approval to accept wagers. That approval could come at the IGB’s regularly scheduled July 30 meeting.
To date, the only live sports betting in Illinois is taking place through retail locations at Rush Street’s Rivers Casino and the Argosy, both of which opened just days before COVID-19 shutdowns took effect in March. The only mobile/internet sports betting available is via Rush Street’s BetRivers online and mobile app.
Illinois could be first domino to fall for PointsBet
The approval could be the first step toward PointsBet becoming more of a household name — at least west of the Mississippi. PointsBet also has a partner through which to offer sports betting in Colorado, but has been holding off until it gets its Illinois business up and running. In January, the company also announced a deal for market access in Michigan.
In Illinois, PointsBet has plans to offer retail sports betting at the Hawthorne Race Course as well as mobile/online via its app. It’s likely the company will expand its physical sports betting footprint to include off-track betting facilities.
BREAKING: We're proud to announce that PointsBet will be expanding into the state of Illinois!
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) July 1, 2019
Elsewhere in Illinois, while DraftKings has plans to partner with the Casino Queen and FanDuel with Fairmount Racetrack, neither operator has been awarded a temporary operating permit. When those are awarded, DraftKings may have an advantage in terms of timing because the Casino Queen is already licensed, though it’s not approved to accept wagers. The Fairmount Racetrack is neither licensed nor approved to accept bets.
Illinois sportsbooks are currently operating under a temporary gubernatorial executive order that lifted the requirement for prospective bettors to register in person at casinos. Consumers can register from the comfort of their homes via mobile device. This could be a boon for PointsBet, which could likely go live with a mobile platform quickly after Hawthorne Racetrack gets sports betting approval.
The state’s other racetrack at Arlington Park has a deal with Churchill Downs and BetAmerica to offer sports betting.
At the last IGB meeting in early June, the board approved seven casinos for Master Sports Betting Licenses.