Online sports betting in Illinois officially launched June 18, with the majority of the bets during the first legal day placed on the action from the Spanish La Liga soccer league, Rivers Casino Des Plaines reported.
The casino property operated by Churchill Downs Incorporated recently launched mobile sports betting, partnering with Rush Street Interactive to utilize the BetRivers.com sports book app across the state. Rivers Casino Des Plains also offers a physical sports book opened up in March 2020, the first retail sports book in Illinois.
The casino would not have been able to allow customers to bet through its mobile app, as lawmakers in the state made provisions for in-person registrations inside a casino or race track for each bettor when they passed the bill to legalize sports betting. Yet, an executive order from St.Gov. J.B. Pritzker temporarily removed that requirement due to the casino closures amid the spreading virus infection, to let state residents register online and be able to immediately start placing wagers.
Spanish Soccer Offers Alternative to Missing US Sports
Instead of placing bets on the NBA playoffs or Major League Baseball, as they would do during any other year during this time, punters in Illinois had to contend with Spanish soccer action from La Liga, with the game between Real Madrid and Valencia attracting the majority of the bets. The first legal online wager, though, was placed shortly after the official launch of sports betting in the state, consisting of 4 $20 bets on PGA Tour’ Heritage Tournament, featuring the finishing positions of four golfers.
Officials at Rivers Casino Des Plaines reported overall betting on soccer, golf and UFC remained strong throughout the weekend, a necessary boost for the brick-and mortar gaming facility that is still closed due to the ongoing health crisis. In mid-March casinos were ordered to temporarily shut down operations to help support federal and state effort to curb the spread of the virus infection and remained closed ever since, with no set date for their re-opening.
Sports betting in Illinois may prove to be quite lucrative, at least at the moment, as the state lacks the typical competition, and even the two big boys, DraftKings and FanDuel are missing, and will not enter the market for the foreseeable 18 months due to an inserted bad actor clause in the bill legalizing sports books in the state.