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BetRivers to take first Illinois bets in time for March Madness


The BetRivers sportsbook at Rivers Casino Des Plaines will take the first legal sports wagers in Illinois today (9 March) after receiving approval from the Illinois Gaming Board.

The sportsbook, operated by Rush Street Gaming and powered by Kambi’s sports betting technology, will start taking bets at noon central daylight time, following an opening ceremony at 10:00 am.

“Whether you are a seasoned sportsbook player or a casual sports fan interested in this new entertainment option, we’re dedicated to an environment where all customers will enjoy themselves in this great venue within our premier casino,” Greg Carlin, chief executive and co-founder of Rush Street Gaming, said.

The timing of the launch means that the sportsbook can take bets for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Sports betting in Illinois was legalized in June 2019 but has been slow to launch. Although a target of legal sports betting in time for the Super Bowl was set, this target was not met.

“The BetRivers Sportsbook will take March Madness out of the office pool and into an exciting, elevated live sports wagering experience,” Corey Wise, senior vice president and general manager of Rivers Casino, said.

“We are grateful to the Illinois Gaming Board staff for their work approving our sportsbook in time for the college basketball tournament—one of the greatest sports events of the year.”

BetRivers sportsbook is co-owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated, which acquired a stake in 2018.

“BetRivers Sportsbook meets the high bar established by the team at Rivers Casino Des Plaines as one of the most successful and unique regional gaming destinations in the country,” Bill Carstanjen, chief executive of Churchill Downs Incorporated said. “We’re excited to add this top-flight amenity to what is already a premier destination.”

The Illinois Gaming Board have also issued temporary operating permits to Argosy Casino Alton, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and Hollywood Casino in both Aurora and Joliet. Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria has also applied for a license.

In addition, Rush Street Interactive has received a temporary operating permit for management services. Penn Sports and Betfair have also applied.

Novomatic and Sports Information Services have both received temporary sports wagering supplier permits. William Hill’s American Wagering, Inc. has also applied.

BetRivers says it will launch an online and mobile sportsbook, also powered by Kambi, later this year.

Senate bill 690, which legalised sports betting, sets out a $10m master license fee for casinos and racetracks, and a $20m online wagering license. Stadia with a 17,000 capacity or higher will also be able to secure licences, at a cost of $10m, allowing them to offer mobile betting within a five-block radius.

Licensees will pay a 15% gross revenue tax, with players required to sign up for an account in person for the first 18 months following the market’s opening.

According to the state’s first phase of sports betting rules, the fee for master licenses in Illinois is set at 5% of handle for the 2018 calendar year, at a minimum of $2.3m, and capped at $10m. Racetracks that apply for this license will pay whichever is greater of $5m or 5% of 2018 handle, also capped at $10m.

Under the second phase of rules, betting on minor league or Illinois-based collegiate teams will be banned, including parlay bets and fantasy sports. While the exact list of authorised betting events are not included, master sports wagering licensees will be able to submit written requests to the Gaming Board to for permission to offer odds on an events.