The state of Illinois has officially taken the next step in growing their new legal sports betting industry with the launch of its first online betting site, BetRivers.com. Rush Street Interactive-owned BetRivers was the first-ever retail sportsbook to open in Illinois at the Rivers Des Plaines Casino, the state’s most lucrative casino, and now has the more profitable mobile arm ready to go. BetRivers took its first bet on March 9, a week before the coronavirus pandemic sent the whole world into hibernation.
The timing looks as though it couldn’t be better for BetRivers.com. English Premier League soccer returned this week, the UFC had another scintillating card, the PGA TOUR played its second tournament since the coronavirus shutdown, German soccer kept its season going and the NBA, NHL and MLB are in various stages of negotiating the commencement of their seasons.
What Illinois can look forward to
Illinois and Gov. J.B. Pritzker reversed course on The Prairie State’s original plan to make bettors in the state register in person for a mobile betting opportunity. Bettors in the state will now be able to sign up remotely for a betting app, which is considered much more effective than the “Nevada model” that stipulates that players must visit a retail casino to sign up for the right to place a bet from the comfort of their couch.
“We are excited to make history in bringing the first online sportsbook to sports fans in our home state, just in time as American sports are coming back into action,” said Richard Schwartz, president of Chicago-based Rush Street.
“While entertainment options are limited as we seek to minimize the spread of the virus, we are focused on BetRivers.com providing sportsbook players with a high-quality online product with exciting sports betting options. We will have great customer service with fast payouts and an overall friendly approach that treats every player with honesty and care.”
Players can now register online and instantly place bets from anywhere in Illinois via desktop or on Android or Apple mobile devices by simply visiting BetRivers.com.
Rush Street isn’t new to being the first in a state to launch a mobile sports betting platform. The company was first to market in Pennsylvania with PlaySugarHouse.com and in Indiana, they were one of the first to launch their mobile product. The company was quick to launch in New Jersey and Colorado as well.
Illinois becomes just the 11th state in the US to welcome a mobile sports betting platform into their state. The coronavirus pandemic really exposed the need for states to adopt mobile betting options and others with a retail-only platform may quickly follow suit in bringing the ability to bet remotely.
Waiting on a full menu of sports betting opportunities is an enormous sports betting market. Estimates for Illinois have between $384 million and $680 million per year being generated in adjusted gross wagering receipts. With the proposed 15% tax rate, that would mean between $58 million and $102 million in tax revenue for the state.
Industry analysts have suggested the Illinois market could rival Nevada’s, with a yearly handle over $5 billion.
What mobile betting means for Illinois
There is no shortage of evidence of what a mobile betting platform can mean for a state. We need not look further than three of the four most successful betting states, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana and their ability to generate between 85%-90% of their record handles via mobile apps.
As it stands, the coronavirus pandemic has created a whopping $2.7 billion budget shortfall for the state of Illinois. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that The Prairie State adopted a mobile betting platform – one that has been generating record revenues for the states that have brought it into the fold. COVID-19 has created an enormous budgetary hole and mobile betting looks every-bit a way to at least mitigate some of the shortfalls before the state.
Floodgates about to open
The legal sports betting scene in Illinois is about to become crowded as the wagering world gets back to normal. More top sports betting providers are lining up in the state and now that mobile betting is on the table, Illinois has suddenly moved from a middling betting state to one of the more exciting markets around.
Sports are slowly returning and the pent-up betting demand is at an all-time high. The wagering floodgates are about to open in Illinois and the state is signaling that they are ready, willing and able to take full advantage.