Barstool Sportsbook Creates Their Own “March Madness” With Illinois Debut

Barstool Sportsbook Illinois Debut

  • On March 11, Barstool Sportsbook joins a crowded field of major competition in Illinois
  • After successful start in Michigan & Pennsylvania, Barstool & PNG plan for 10 US states
  • Illinois off to great online sports start, considering other iGaming options in near future

Move over sportsbook operators sitting at the Illinois table. Barstool has a reserved seat starting on Thursday through news captured on Twitter, sent by flamboyant founder & CEO Dave Portnoy.

Penn National Gaming, Inc. (Nasdaq: PENN) announced that the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB)has approved the Company’s application to offer online sports wagering in Illinois. The Company plans to launch its Barstool Sportsbook mobile app on iOS and Android, as well as for desktop users, starting at noon on Thursday, March 11.

The Barstool app can already be downloaded in Illinois. New customers are eligible to receive $10 in site credit when signing up for a new account.

Illinois makes the third sports betting market for Barstool Sportsbook. Off to a successful start in Michigan and Pennsylvania, the company has firm plans to market its brand in as many as ten states by the end of 2021. Penn National Gaming has been aggressive in rolling out the Barstool sportsbook app since acquiring 36% of the company in 2020.

Penn National Gaming also has a retail presence in neighboring states to where Barstool has begun operating including Indiana and Colorado but has yet to launch online in those states.

Penn National’s President and CEO Jay Snowden said in a statement:

We are extremely excited to launch our online Barstool Sportsbook in Illinois just as the college basketball regular season wraps up and bettors begin their preparations for March Madness.

On behalf of the Penn Interactive team and our partners at Barstool Sports, I want to thank the IGB for their approval of our online sports betting application. Alongside our risk management and platform providers, Kambi and White Hat Gaming, we have developed online sports betting app which is attracting new and existing Penn National customers as evidenced by our performance to-date in Michigan and Pennsylvania. We are eager to leverage the building momentum for the Barstool Sportsbook app with our launch in Illinois and the additional launches we have planned for 2021.


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Challenging Illinois Sportsbook Market

Akin to the style they prefer, Barstool will be in for a competitive, tough fight with other established major sportsbook operators in Illinois including DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel and PointsBet.

Their debut is the first mobile launch in Illinois since William Hill in September 2020. BetRivers was the first online sportsbook to come onboard in June 2020 shortly followed by DraftKings Sportsbook, BetRivers, FanDuel and PointsBet thereafter.

The current market breakdown in Illinois has DraftKings Sportsbook at 40% share, FanDuel 29% BetRivers 20%, PointsBet 9%, and William Hill at 6%.

Through PNG, Barstool’s online skin will be linked to the Hollywood Casino in Aurora, plus the Barstool Sportsbook will have a retail presence at the Hollywood Casino in Joliet and Argosy Casino in Alton, Illinois.

The timing for Barstool’s March Illinois launch is excellent as sports wagering has exploded in popularity across the state. In January, Illinois sports bettors wagered $580 million,, making it only the fourth US state to cross the $500 million plateau for sports betting in a single month. Since legalizing sports wagering just one year ago, Illinois has seen more than $2 billion in total sports handle.

January’s handle was up 18.3% from $491.7 million in December. This year, Illinois is projected to accumulate a total of $6 billion in wagering action, according to PlayIllinois.com.

Illinois Online Casino Maybe Next

Exceeding forecasts and expectations for online sports wagering in Illinois has some lawmakers potentially looking beyond sports to legalize another form of iGaming. Online casino gaming recently launched in nearby Michigan to great success, putting some pressure on Illinois legislators to research that option as well.

Representative Bob Rita filed House Bill 3142 in February. The bill seeks to authorize online casino gambling with the Illinois Gaming Board also responsible for regulating the industry along with sports wagering. Thus far the bill has not been under serious discussion in the State legislature, although is expected to be brought to the floor in the coming months.

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Larry Gibbs

Expert on Sports Betting Industry

Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.

Email: [email protected]