The highest-grossing casino in Illinois, Rivers Casino, already launched its land-based operation this year after receiving approval from the state back on Nov. 21. Now the casino operator is ready to offer sports betting in its brand-new, state-of-the-art sportsbook whenever state regulators give them the go-ahead, according to a report by the Chicago Sun-Times.
State regulators were already supposed to have released applications for sports betting licenses to Rivers and other interested parties, but things remain in a holding pattern while regulators sift through the thousands of pages of rules that govern sports betting in the state.
Illinois legalized sports betting when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law back in June to put a $45 billion capital plan featuring a massive gambling expansion on the state’s docket. But it has been a slow process to get the sports betting piece of the law up and running.
Still, Rivers is moving forward with its plans. Rivers overhauled a piece of its property into a 4,840-square-foot area destined to soon become the sportsbook of the casino once the state begins allowing operators to offer sports bets.
When Gov. Pritzker’s signed the state’s massive gambling expansion law on June 28, it was hailed as one of the ”most significant and unlikely developments” in recent U.S. sports betting history.
State lawmakers went so far as to work past the deadline of its legislative session to ensure the bill’s passage, and the sports betting portion of the bill legalized both retail and mobile sports betting in the state on college and professional events. A slew of casino projects are at various stages of development in Illinois.
The law did, however, give preference to retail betting operators by requiring online sportsbooks without a physical presence in the state already to work with existing land-based casinos for the first 18 months. Still, it was a significant achievement designed to serve the interests of the almost 13 million people of Illinois, including those in the country’s third-largest city, Chicago.
Implementation of Illinois sports betting was always expected to take some time. The state is well-known for its complicated political structure. So the fact that lawmakers were able to come together at all to agree on such a massive gambling expansion is commendable.
It stands to reason that operators such as Rivers Casino entered into their plans well aware of how long things can take for the state to move forward on such an issue. That’s why the operator focused solely on readying itself for whenever the day does finally come for them to offer sports betting to their patrons, and the move seems to have paid off.
“We want to be prepared and primed to take advantage once we know what the requirements are,” Rivers General Manager Corey Wise told the Sun-Times last week. “We’re ready to go once the state is ready to go.”