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Illinois has been one of the largest sports betting markets in the country since its launch in 2019. Still, the Land of Lincoln has consistently struggled to fill its remaining operator licenses. That is expected to change today as Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) will have a board meeting where one of the topics will be disclosing the applicants and identifying the winning bids for those licenses. These licenses will be for online-only sportsbooks, of which only seven currently operate in Illinois. The announcement has been highly anticipated, as the state had run into issues filling their remaining operator licenses over the last two years.
The IGB has made several attempts to fill the state’s remaining licenses, but they have run into issues finding worthy candidates. The state opened the bidding process for online-only licenses in 2021 but received only four applications from four smaller sportsbooks. All four applicants failed to complete the process, either rejected by the IGB or dropped out.
The state’s $20 million application fee is a big reason for the struggles. That is a far larger number than in other states, and obtaining a license would only be the first step. New operators would enter a small pool of online sportsbooks filled with all of the major players. Operators like FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars have driven out smaller competitors nationwide. That makes entering the market a high-stakes move, driving away many second or third-tier operators.
While those concerns have kept the remaining online-only licenses open, it appears several growing operators will be receiving them today.
We still don’t know much about the application process that has gone off for these licenses, but bet365 seems like the odds-on favorite to receive one today. The UK sportsbook has been expanding quickly in the US, combining its years of experience with aggressive marketing campaigns.
After bet365, expect Bally Bet and Circa also to win licenses today. Bally’s is set to open a retail casino in Chicago, giving them an inside track for an online-only license. Circa has partnered with Full House’s American Place Casino, giving them a strong foothold in the state.
Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.More info on Michael Savio
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