DraftKings and FanDuel are continuing their race to establish themselves in the Illinois sports betting market and set up operations before each other. The two rivals were granted temporary operating permits by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) that give them the status of Management Service Providers (MSP). With DraftKings and FanDuel in the mix, Illinois now has five MSPs in their market.
Both operators are expected to pivot to the Illinois retail market once they receive their permits. As of today, there are only two retail sportsbooks approved to operate in Illinois: Rivers Casino’s BetRivers Sportsbook, operated by Rush Street Interactive, and The Argosy’s sportsbook, operated by Penn National Gaming.
BetRivers is currently the only available online and mobile sportsbook in the market.
The IGB is set to meet on July 30, when many industry observers expect BetRivers to gain more competition, due to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Executive Order in June, which temporarily allows punters to register their online sports betting accounts remotely.
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Analysts believe that DraftKings is likely to beat out FanDuel in the race. DraftKings currently has a market share agreement with Casino Queen, one of the seven operators granted a Master Sports Wagering License by the IGB. FanDuel is in the process of hammering out a deal to buy the Fairmount Park horse racing track to gain entry into the Illinois market.
Despite widespread optimism on DraftKings quickly setting up operations in Illinois, some analysts note DraftKings may have to rebrand itself to conform to an emergency rule change from the IGB, which has yet to be taken up by lawmakers. Analysts state that Casino Queen could take on the DraftKings name, or DraftKings could take on the Casino Queen name for their shared Illinois venture.
Both Firms’ Illinois Entry Circumvents Online-Only Rule
DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s current strategy to penetrate the market ahead of schedule has garnered the ire of some competitors, such as BetRivers, whose attorney argued that the Sports Wagering Act has clear limitations on when online-only operators can enter the market.
The rule, which states that online-only operators will have to wait 540 days from the first issued betting license, was expressly crafted to delay the entry of DraftKings and FanDuel into the market as punishment for their offering of daily fantasy sports to Illinois residents when it was illegal. However, the two operators found a loophole and will soon launch their online betting operations.