Things are certainly heating up in the sportsbook sector in Illinois following Governor Pritzker’s decision to extend remote registration for online gambling. We broke the news last week about the extension which will now go to September 19. Just two hours after the announcement DraftKings president Robins had tweeted out his pride at the launch of the DraftKings mobile app.
The timing of this comes off the back of accusations towards DraftKings by Rush Street Gaming, which owns BetRivers sportsbook. This Illinois sportsbook based out of Rivers casino had previously labeled DraftKings as the corrupt one. Adding fuel to the fire, early on Monday DraftKings president Robins responded with this tweet:
“Feels so good to be taking mobile registrations in Illinois. Especially after the corrupt idiots at Rush Street Gaming tried to block us in the state. Over the long run, good policy always wins. I commend @JBPritzker for doing what’s right for the citizens of Illinois,”
The tweet has since been deleted, but the war of words continues.
DraftKings President Robins Finds A Way To Get In Early
The state law in Illinois is that only casinos can launch sportsbooks and this is why the Rivers casino was able to launch theirs. The casino got approval back in early July; we broke the story here. DraftKings president Robins knew that to secure a sportsbook in Illinois the firm would have to partner up, and that is why they made a deal with Queen Casino, naming the sportsbook DraftKings at Queen Casino.
This deal, made in early August, will be mutually beneficial and it has of course helped DraftKings president Robins to gain his company a leg-up in the rookie market. Speaking at the time, president of DraftKings at Queen Casino Terry Downes had this to say:
“We are excited to bring sports betting to Illinois and the St. Louis community. The marriage of two iconic brands promises to create an unforgettable experience that can only be found at DraftKings at Casino Queen. Fans will come to love the service, passion, and innovation now available in our state.”
Rush Street Continue the War of Words
The issue that Rush Street gaming has is that there is a penalty box rule which is applied to companies like FanDuel and DraftKings. Under normal circumstances these businesses would be barred from applying for the $20 million license until eighteen months after the casinos. Casinos are also allowed to get this for a much lower price. The fact that DraftKings got the jump on this, effectively becoming a state casino, angered Rush Gaming.
In response to the accusation of corruption, a spokesperson for Rush Gaming had the following retort, referencing previous legal issues DraftKings have had.
“Rush Street has never been asked to leave a state, pays taxes on every wager, and has not been named in multiple consumer class action suits”
Does This Mean The State Has Failed The Local Economy?
The rules which were in place around the “penalty box” were there to prevent large, national companies like FanDuel and DraftKings from eating up all of the market share. The question as to whether or not this hurts or harms the local economy is a tough one. In reality, a wager made through the DraftKings app will still end up in the state, and taxes will be paid here.
Speaking after the announcement of the extension, Pritzker’s secretary Jordan Abudayyeh commented:
“Increased mitigation measures are impacting the capacity limits and hours of operation at casinos in regions seeing higher rates of the virus and online sports betting will allow for an even playing field across the industry.”
What is certain is that Gov. Pritzker’s move was a shrewd one and makes sense for the state. We covered just how hard it is to open a casino in Chicago right now, which is why the online option was always going to be the smart one. As we have also written, Chicago and Illinois have some amazing casinos but they are struggling. If partnerships with the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings is going to be beneficial to casinos here, they should be welcomed.