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Illinois Becomes 11th State To Offer Online Sports Betting As BetRivers Opens For Business

Forbes Online

Monday, June 22, 2020  |  Commentary  |  Zack Jones - Contributor

Gambling, Gaming

It was a big week for the advancement of sports betting in Illinois, and while the future of the local horse racing calendar remains undecided, massive advances were made in terms of the mobile wagering options available to the state’s 12.7 million residents.

Per Odds.com, Illinois is poised to generate upwards of $73 million in taxable revenue if the estimates of a $488 million annual market come to fruition. The 15% tax levied on gaming revenue could see this number rapidly increase once measures to allow online and mobile offerings are put in place.

Governor J.B. Pritzker did just that when he took action to expedite the availability of mobile wagering options by suspending a state provision that only permitted the use of online betting applications to those who had previously registered in-person. This suspension came in the form of June 4th’s Executive Order 2020-41, and seven Illinois casinos were granted Master Sports Wagering licenses, a qualification required by the state’s gaming commission to operate as an online sports betting provider.

With Thursday’s launch of BetRivers.com, Rivers Casino became the first operator in the state to offer such digital offerings within the jurisdiction.

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is owned and operated by Rush Street Gaming, a group that also oversees Rivers Casino Philadelphia and three other Rivers Casino branded properties in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Schenectady, New York.

Not only did the brand successfully manage to beat their competitors in the race to become the first mobile betting platform in the state, but they also were the first to legally offer in-person sports betting in Illinois.

In their official statement, Rush Street Interactive president Richard Schwartz stated that the company was “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.”

As Illinois’ brick and mortar casinos remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, in-state bettors will likely flock to the platform to cure their itch for a quick wager. As of now, reopening timelines have made June 26th the earliest possible date for casinos to reopen their doors.

Arlington Park, ITHA Deal Delayed

While favorable currents aided the BetRivers launch, Arlington Park faced further setbacks in their ongoing discussions with the Illinois Thoroughbred Horesmen’s Association.

Arlington plans to host 30 programs between late July and September, and while COVID-19 was forcing most events to take place without spectators, the hope was to have horses return to the tracks as soon at this weekend.

All talks came to a halt yesterday when ITHA Executive Director David McCaffery requested yet another recess, claiming that Arlington Park’s final contract had been passed over just minutes prior, making it impossible for his team to revise the document and sign off on the proposed return to action.

Friday’s meeting, scheduled for 1:00 p.m., was meant to conclude issues left on the table Thursday which led to the first recession. With the ITHA claiming that the contract hit their inbox at 1:08 p.m Friday, all proceedings have been put on hold over the weekend.