Illinois regulator grants seven Master Sports Wagering Licenses

The state of Illinois has taken another step towards launching mobile sports wagering.

On Thursday, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) approved seven casinos in the state for Master Sports Wagering licenses.

This news comes as the regulator published reopening protocols for casino venues in the state. Illinois casinos have been closed since 16 March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Seven casinos get Master Licenses for sports betting

During the IGB’s latest meeting, held on 11 June, the regulator awarded Master Sports Wagering licenses to seven casinos in the state. The casinos that were granted a licence include:

  • The Argosy in Alton
  • Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin
  • Hollywood Casino Aurora
  • Hollywood Casino Joliet
  • Rivers Casino in Des Plaines
  • Casino Queen in East St. Louis
  • Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino

The Master Licence applications were unanimously approved by the board and will last for four years before expiring in June 2024. The seven casinos previously held an owner’s license and temporary sports wagering permits.

Prior to the temporary shutdown of casinos due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Argosy, and Rivers the only venues in the state that received provisional approval to accept wagers.

In March, Rivers Casino was the first venue in the state to offer sports betting but was open for less than a week before casinos in the state were closed due to coronavirus.

What’s so important about a Master Sports Wagering Licence?

Under the state’s sports wagering legislation, a Master Sports Wagering Licence is required for a casino with a land-based sportsbook to offer mobile sports betting.

Under Section 25-35 of the sports betting bill, SB 690: “(d) An owners licensee issued a master sports wagering license may conduct sports wagering: (1) at its facility in this State that is authorized to conduct gambling operations under the Illinois Gambling Act; and (2) over the Internet or through a mobile application.”

Master licenses cover land-based and online sports betting and will last four years and can be renewed for an additional four years for $1m. The fee for a master license will be set at 5% of the license holders total sports betting handle from the upcoming calendar year up to a maximum of $10m.

Master license holders will be subject to a tax rate of 15% on adjusted gross sports betting receipts.

What happens next?

The next step in the licensing process will require operators to make a request to commence online wagering under Rule 1100.

At the time of writing, there are no mobile betting options available in the state, but River Casino currently has both a management services provider temporary operating permit through Rush Street Interactive and a supplier temporary operating permit via GeoComply.  This indicates that Rivers Casino may be the first online operator to serve the state when mobile betting goes live.

Penn Sports Interactive is the only other management services provider with a temporary operating permit.

Five other companies including FanDuel via BetFair Interactive, DraftKings via Crown IL Gaming, and PointsBet are still awaiting approval.

Other developments in Illinois

Earlier this month, the IGB proposed an emergency rule change in relation to the branding for online and mobile sports betting.

On 4 June, Governor J.B Pritzker issued an executive order suspending the in-person registration for online sports betting. This allows bettors in the state to register online betting accounts remotely while Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations are in place.

Sports betting in Illinois

In July 2019, Pritzker signed Illinois’ gambling expansion bill into law, making Illinois the fifth state to legalize sports betting in 2019. As well as legalizing sports betting, the bill allowed for the launch of six new land-based casinos and a large casino venue in Chicago.

Under the state’s sports betting laws wagering on collegiate sporting events that are held in the state will be prohibited. The sports leagues will also have the ability to place restrictions on certain types of bets in the state. The legislation also authorizes the roll-out of slot machines at various racetracks and the O’Hare and Midway airports.

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