Garden State-licensed online sportsbook PointsBet on Monday announced a 20-year partnership with a brick-and-mortar facility in Illinois ahead of the state’s launch of sports betting.
PointsBet, based out of Australia, inked a deal with Hawthorne Race Course, which would be permitted to offer sports betting under the new law, signed by the governor late last month.
In a presser, PointsBet highlighted the fact that 9.5 mm people reside in the area around the forthcoming sportsbook. Illinois also legalized online/mobile betting, which PointsBet will seek to offer as well. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed. There’s currently no timetable for Illinois green lighting books to launch.
PointsBet is currently operational in New Jersey in partnership with Meadowlands Racetrack. And previously the bookmaker announced a partnership in Iowa, with the Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington, to offer retail and online sports betting. Iowa legalized in early May and is planning to have licensed sportsbooks ready in time for football season.
Both parties are bullish on the market
“PointsBet and Hawthorne Race Course will work in tandem to build a world-class, multi-faceted sports entertainment venue centrally located on the property of the historic racecourse following licensure by the Illinois Gaming Board,” said the sports betting company.
Johnny Aitken, PointsBet’s U.S. CEO, said the firm is “ecstatic” about the opportunity. Illinois has the potential to see more than $8 billion in annual sports wagering handle, according to a 2017 study from Oxford Economics, commissioned by the U.S. casino industry.
Tim Carey, president and general manager of Hawthorne Race Course, remarked:
“Governor Pritzker and the legislature have given us an historic opportunity to transform the Illinois racing industry with the addition of casino gaming and sports betting. It’s an opportunity that we won’t take lightly and that’s exactly why we chose PointsBet as our partner.”
It appears that PointsBet will not seek one of the state’s three online/mobile-only sports betting licenses, which come with a hefty $20 mm price tag. Thus it appears the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings would seek that route for Illinois entry, but they will have to wait a state-mandated 18 months before offering their respective products in order for Illinois b&m sports betting facilities to get a head start in the online betting realm.
Under Illinois’ new sports wagering law, PointsBet wouldn’t be able to use its brand in partnership with Hawthorne Race Course. The relevant provision from the legislation signed by the governor:
The sports wagering offered over the Internet or through a mobile application shall only be offered under either the same brand as the organization licensee is operating under or a brand owned by a direct or indirect holding company that owns at least an 80% interest in that organization licensee on the effective date of this Act.
In the PointsBet presser, the company appeared to indicate it would help its partner build up its own brand.
“PointsBet will bring its best-in-market proprietary technology, modernized and premium brand mentality, expert trading practices, and proven growth marketing strategies to Illinois’ eager sports betting market,” the firm said. The presser called Hawthorne Race Course an “iconic” property.
That provision is more of a punch to the stomach to DK and FD, given the amount of money the companies spent on advertising to build their respective brands during the DFS boom. It makes it so that DK and FD are incentivized to wait for the so-called “penalty box” period of 18 months to run out before seeking to compete in the Illinois sports betting space.