DraftKings Launches Retail Sportsbook, App in Illinois

DraftKings celebrated its Illinois debut on Wednesday by launching the DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook app and retail facility at the East St. Louis-based casino.

A penalty-box provision in Illinois’ sports betting law aimed to prevent the operator and its rival FanDuel from entering the state with online-only operations until after a year and a half after the start of legal wagering in the Land of Lincoln.

However, DraftKings teamed up with Casino Queen earlier this year to exploit a loophole in the law and go live with athletic gambling in the state much earlier than originally expected.

Commenting on their expansion into Illinois’ nascent sports betting market, DraftKings co-founder, Chairman, and CEO Jason Robins said that the state is “home to some of the most passionate sports fans and most iconic sports teams in the entire country.”

How DraftKings Got to Go Live in Illinois

DraftKings announced its partnership with Casino Queen in June. The brick-and-mortar gambling venue was at the time one of seven properties to have been granted four-year master sports betting licenses from the Illinois Gaming Board.

DraftKings itself applied for a temporary operating permit in April and obtained that permit from the state gambling regulator in July. To prepare for the imminent launch of sports betting, Casino Queen rebranded as DraftKings at Casino Queen late last month.

The rebrand was a necessary step and a workaround to emergency branding rules proposed by state regulators that required casinos to “only offer Internet and mobile sports wagering under the […] casino’s brand or a brand owned by certain related entities with an 80% ownership interest.”

Under that same set of rules, “displaying multiple brands (including the brands of third-party service providers is expressly prohibited.”

In-Person Registration Now Required

DraftKings became only the second operational sports betting app in Illinois after the BetRivers app went live in the state in June. However, unlike BetRivers, which was able to take advantage of the temporarily lifted in-person registration requirement, DraftKings was not that lucky.

Under Illinois law, sports bettors must register at a physical facility in order to place bets online. Following the closure of the state’s casinos and operating sportsbooks in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker temporarily lifted that requirement via a special executive order.

The state’s top official did not renew that order at the end of July, which means that the in-person registration rule is now in effect.

In its press release announcing the launch of its retail sportsbook and betting app, DraftKings said that its Illinois customers can now download the wagering app and visit its facility at DraftKings at Casino Queen to create an account in order to be able to place bets remotely from anywhere around the state.

As mentioned above, DraftKings has launched Illinois’ second app. William Hill, which went live with retail betting in the state last week, indicated that the launch of its app was imminent, pending regulatory approval. Australian bookmaker PointsBet is also anticipated to soon launch its digital product in the state.

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