PlayUSA Rewind: 9th Illinois Sports Betting License Goes To Racetrack

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on November 3, 2020 - Last Updated on December 31, 2020

Election Day has arrived, and although a few gambling initiatives will be voted on across the US, they are not making the rounds on this week’s rewind.

This week’s key issues include a new sports betting license in Illinois, the anticipated launch of the Barstool Sportsbook in Colorado and another potential PA online casino.

On the rewind:

Fairmont Park gets Illinois sports betting license

The ninth master IL sports betting license has been awarded to Fairmont Park. Before the global pandemic, racetracks were struggling to stay afloat. In a way, you could call this a Hail Mary saving catch.

Not only can the racetrack near the Illinois-Missouri border offer sports betting, but it has also been tagged as “preliminarily suitable” for a casino license. Should it be awarded one, it could also begin offering slots and table games.

But that’s not all. The surprise benefactor of this master license is none other than FanDuel.

With the addition of Fairmont Park, FanDuel becomes the only operator to have two retail locations in Illinois, its first being Par-A-Dice Casino. The track will transition to a racino, but there is no timeline yet on how long that will take.

The takeaway: Racetracks in the US have been struggling as of late. COVID-19 restrictions, a decline in race days and decreased interest in horse racing have all been killers for the industry. The name recognition of FanDuel Sportsbook should add some firepower to Fairmont Park. If the property can acquire a casino license and be able to offer slots, table games, sports betting and horse racing — well, that makes for a fine attraction in Illinois.

Barstool Sportsbook set to launch in Colorado

One of the most-watched sports betting debuts this month was the launch of the Barstool Sportsbook app in Pennsylvania. Now, anticipation builds yet again for its official debut in Colorado on Nov. 5.

However, there’s a catch. This time around, it’s not a mobile app, but rather, a physical Barstool Sportsbook inside Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk. Don’t worry; the company anticipates launching its app in the first quarter of 2021.

The takeaway: The Barstool brand carries a lot of clout. The company’s main competition right now is both DraftKings and FanDuel. A successful debut in Colorado could go a long way, considering Penn plans to convert all its physical locations to the Barstool brand. Following its Colorado launch, Barstool Sportsbook will look to continue its momentum in Michigan, where it plans to launch mobile operations next.

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BetMGM nabs PA online casino & sports betting license

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) recently approved an interactive gaming operator and sports wagering operator license for BetMGM.

This is exciting news for those online casino, online sportsbook and online poker fanatics in the Keystone State.

The licensing paperwork may be done, but a BetMGM Sportsbook still needs a land-based partnership in order to officially launch in the state. Eligible PA casinos are only good for one retail and one online sportsbook. However, there won’t be an issue when it comes to interactive wagering, meaning casino and poker.

The takeaway: At the moment, retail casino options are slim pickings. There are less than a handful of options available for BetMGM to partner with, but some experts see this as a forward-looking move. There are two casino options experts have floated, one being Lady Luck Nemacolin. The casino declined to purchase a sports betting or iGaming certificate, making it a good fit for BetMGM. Another, less likely option is Live! Hotel and Casino. The casino has a preexisting deal with FanDuel that could complicate negotiations. Regardless, BetMGM appears to be looking for a way to call Pennsylvania home.

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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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