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PointsBet strikes racetrack deal to move into Illinois


Australian sportsbook operator PointsBet has secured a 20-year partnership with Chicago-area racetrack Hawthorne Race Course, providing it with a route into the Illinois sports betting market.

The partnership will see the pair work together to launch a premium retail sportsbook, a key component of a new sports entertainment venue that will be constructed provided the venue is licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board. 

PointsBet and Hawthorne will also launch wagering at off-track betting facilities throughout the state, and for online and mobile devices under the PointsBet brand. 

“PointsBet is ecstatic to partner with Hawthorne Race Course, an iconic venue that has been part of the fabric of the Chicago sports and entertainment scene since its inception in 1891,” said PointsBet US chief executive Johnny Aitken. 

“Illinois sports fans are diehard in every sense of the word and we are elated to introduce them to our premium sportsbook and our innovative, bettor-first experience.”

The operator’s partner in the venture, Hawthorne, is the longest continuously run, family-owned racetrack in North America. It is located in the Chicago metropolitan area, the third-largest in the US, with more than 9.5m residents.

The deal comes after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a gaming expansion bill last week. This will see a number of new casinos constructed in the state, slot machines rolled out in racetracks and at the Illinois and Midway airports, and the launch of land-based and mobile sports wagering.

“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,” Hawthorne president and general manager Tim Carey said.  

“It’s an opportunity that we won’t take lightly and that’s exactly why we chose PointsBet as our partner,” he said. “Our business has survived because we put players first, and PointsBet has proven they do as well. That is how we are going to succeed together.”

The deal further strengthens PointsBet’s presence in the US market. Having launched in New Jersey in January 2019, under Meadowlands Racetrack’s license, it has since struck a partnership with Iowa’s Catfish Bend Casino. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed sports betting legislation into law on May 14.

The company has also listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, at the time noting that it had deals in place in New York and Colorado, as well as a partner in Illinois, that would be announced at a later date.