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In what has become a common occurrence, Fairmount Park, the 95-year-old horse racing track in Illinois is getting a facelift and new identity. Patiently waiting years for necessary new revenue, it will receive a welcome boost now from casino gambling and sports wagering, The track will be embarking on a partnership that promises to expand sports betting, reinvest in the property and adopt a name change.
Fairmount Park is following a successful trend in offering fans online sports betting under Illinois’ new wagering law, Ownership will be partnering with major New York-based online sports wagering firm FanDuel Group and renaming the site FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, FanDuel Group CEO Matt King outlined ambitious plans for a sportsbook at the racetrack but added “We’re investing broadly to revitalize the track itself.” The Post-Dispatch reports plans for the track to bring back St. Louis Derby, last run in 2006, and fund it with a $250,000 purse.
Plans are on the board to open sometime in January 2021, aiming for a launch before the Super Bowl.
Matt King, CEO of FanDuel Group, said in an interview:
This is the first time we’ve put our brand on the overall track. We are delighted to partner with Fairmount Park to continue bringing high-quality horse racing and soon additional entertainment experiences via our sportsbook to the region,Fairmount is an iconic state landmark which we plan to modernize bringing innovative technology and entertainment offerings only FanDuel can deliver.
The Collinsville track is just one of three horse racing venues currently active in Illinois and the only one outside of the Chicago metro area. The track opened in 1925, featuring thoroughbred flat racing on a one-mile dirt oval. It borders St. Louis, Missouri on the southern end of the state.
Fairmount Park had been owned by the Ogden Corp. for over 30 years, it was sold in 2000 to Bill Stiritz, then the chairman of Ralston Purina. Racing continued at the track until this year however, because of Covid-19, onsite guests were prohibited.
As per the FanDuel Group, Fairmount Park has been approved to host 53 live racing days in 2021 with daily simulcast wagering for racetracks throughout the country. Fairmount Park currently offers simulcast wagering at its four off-track betting facilities in Alton, Carbondale, Springfield, and Sauget, Illinois.
No stranger to horse racing, FanDuel is linked via its subsidiary partner TVG, an online advance deposit wagering platform, and sports-oriented digital cable and satellite television network. TVG broadcasts over 60,000 races per year, sourced from more than 150 worldwide tracks, available on two channels.
TVG also simulcasts and shares production resources with NBC Sports, NBCSN, and multiple NBC regional sports networks to provide coverage of major horse racing events during the year.
Earlier in 2020, as part of its efforts to attract a younger audience to horse racing, FanDuel Group launched its FanDuel Racing product, an advance-deposit wagering platform designed for novice racing fans. To date, FanDuel has introduced more than 50,000 players to ADW from its sportsbook and daily fantasy platforms.
It will be interesting to watch the impact of Fairmount Park’s new opportunity for welcoming sports wagering to southern Illinois.
From a geolocation perspective, the Collinsville, IL track sits only 20 miles from a major hub in St. Louis, Missouri. A conservative US state that currently has no legalized sports wagering and has not given a formal indication of definitive plans for 2021.
The situation it reminiscent of New Jersey and the habit nearby New York area sports bettors, unfortunately, have come to accept without a legal process for sports wagering within their state. Time will tell if this may serve as a catalyst for potential opportunity, motivating Missouri state legislators.
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.
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