Bettors Can Now Place Sports Bets in IllinoisMarch 16, 2020 Matt Speakman
Illinois became the fifteenth state to hold a legal sports wager when Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened the world’s first sportsbook Monday morning, unveiling the latest gaming foray by Illinois— one that officials hope would help bankroll an aggressive construction campaign for the cash-strapped world.
Blackhawks announcer Eddie Olczyk put $100 down on his hometown White Sox to win the 16-to-1 betting pennant of the American League for the ballyhooed first stake. The Rivers wager brought an end to more than eight months of a scramble by state gaming authorities to set the basic rules for the burgeoning industry and groaning from restless fans keen to get in on the action as sports betting dollars poured over the frontier to Indiana, where it opened in September.
Olczyk’s bet also marked the first official rollout of sports betting as its expansion continues around the nation. Throughout the months ahead, the industry is breaking out in numerous other jurisdictions, including later this week in Michigan, and a handful of other jurisdictions are expected to pass laws after the historic decision of the U.S Supreme Court requiring the states to do so in 2018. Several other casinos here in Illinois have filed for sports betting licenses, including a Downstate racetrack.
Argosy Casino Alton Announced a Definite Launch Date
The Argosy Casino Alton near St. Louis is the only other to announce a definite launch date so far, except Rivers: March 16, a buzzer-beater for the flood of March Madness betting anticipated when the NCAA DivisionI men’s basketball tournament tips off March 17th. However, under the gaming extension legislation signed last June by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, bets can not be made on college teams in Illinois.
However, it was Rivers who nabbed the first sports betting license that is the state’s most lucrative casino by almost double its nearest rival. The Des Plaines gaming mecca had its book established about three months before regulators gave permission.
Bluhm Believes Des Plaines Casino Will Thrive
In 2008, when the Illinois Gaming Board awarded Bluhm’s business the Des Plaines casino after it was controversially rejected from neighboring Rosemont because of the owners ‘ links to organized crime, the billionaire real estate mogul looked to the legalization of his casino in tumultuous economic times.
“I am equally confident that while we’re opening a sportsbook today when we’re all worried about a virus, and the financial markets are all melted — we will come through this, and this country will be equally successful or more successful than before, and our casino will continue to thrive” – commented Bluhm.
Often available for free sportsbooks are the three racetracks of the province, as well as large stadiums such as Wrigley Field and the United Center. Most, though not all, of the 10 current casinos in Illinois are required to lay sports wagers while up to six new casinos permitted under the dramatic expansion of gambling. Considering all of this, Illinois has officially joined the other 14 states where sports betting is already part of the gambling industry and sports bettors can place bets without leaving the borders of their state.