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BetRivers Boosts Midwest Offering With Online Illinois Sportsbook

Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive and Rivers Casino Des Plaines launched Illinois’ first online sportsbook with BetRivers on June 18.

Online sports wagering is up and running in Illinois.

And BetRivers Sportsbook will take hold of what is likely to be a profitable position atop the gaming chain.

Rivers Casino, Rush Street partner to open online book

The partnership of Rivers Casino Des Plaines and Rush Street Interactive launched Illinois’ first online sportsbook on June 18.

The BetRivers product means bettors can wager on their phones or computers and avoid previously required in-person registrations.

It was welcome news for the state. Casinos and physical sportsbooks have been closed since March 16.

Richard Schwartz, president of the Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive, said in a media release:

“We are excited to make history in bringing the first online sportsbook to sports fans in our home state just in time as American sports are coming back into action.”

The allowance of mobile sports wagering came when Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order on June 7 that temporarily removed the state’s in-person registering requirement.

The order “allows Illinois sports fans to temporarily place wagers from the safety of their own home, protecting a revenue source that is critical as the state begins to recover from the damaging financial impact of COVID-19,” said Marcus Fruchter, the Illinois Gaming Board administrator.

State projections from before the pandemic said Illinois could eventually generate $100 million-plus in annual profits for Illinois.

Existing timelines bode well for online book

BetRivers Illinois could soon pay major dividends for Rush Street Interactive and Rivers Casino Des Plaines.

It’s another example of how the sports gambling industry has been disrupted in ways unthinkable just months ago. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived only days after Illinois opened its doors to legal wagers.

But just as DraftKings stock has emerged as an unlikely favorite, so could the fortunes of an online sportsbook unexpectedly launched during a global pandemic.

American sports have returned in the form of NASCAR, UFC and golf. Most recently, the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship showed that professional sporting events can survive the coronavirus.

Premier League soccer, teaming up with the Bundesliga and La Liga, are also attractive foreign betting options. However, those don’t compare to what is around the corner: MLB, NBA and NHL action.

Each will be surrounded by gambling fervor if they can avoid further delays or even season cancellations. And BetRivers will be there for doubly eager Illinois bettors welcoming legal online betting to their state.

Come late July, baseball bettors will no longer need to rise at 4 a.m. for NC Dinos and Lotte Giants games. Instead, they will welcome the return of the Yankees and Dodgers and a 60-game season ripe for major, long-odds future returns.

Online book solidifies brand in Midwest

The position was ripe for the taking.

BetRivers already owns a license in Illinois and is experienced with online books in other states, including Indiana. The BetRivers Indiana book generated $2.4 million in handle in May.

Now, the online sportsbook has first crack at Illinois bettors, beating out the other six sportsbooks licensed to do business in Illinois. DraftKings and FanDuel remain in a “penalty box” as part of unfriendly, expensive state legislation for the two industry leaders.

Providing more good news is the July 1 reopening of casinos in Illinois. Casinos can open at 50% capacity. Six-foot social distancing is necessary in designated areas, including sportsbooks. Casinos reopened in Indiana on June 15.

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