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FanDuel Turns a New Leaf In Illinois Ahead Of March Madness

On March 1, FanDuel Sportsbook announced the completion of its rebranding and subsequent transfer of its Illinois betting license to FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing. This transfer comes on the heels of FanDuel’s partnership with Fairmount Park Racetrack, whose name is now a thing of the past as FanDuel moves forward with the venture under its newly-branded identity in Illinois.

Before the recent transfer, FanDuel was partnered with the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria for its mobile sportsbook in Illinois. That mobile sports betting partnership is also history. FanDuel Sportsbook app users in Illinois are now being informed of the switch when logging into their accounts.

The reason for FanDuel’s dismissal of Par-A-Dice is that Illinois law requires each sportsbook to have only one partner for mobile betting, meaning existing accounts on the site are linked to the Par-A-Dice casino. In order to continue using their FanDuel account, players must accept terms that automatically closed their accounts with Par-A-Dice while subsequently (and automatically) reinstating those accounts with the newly-branded FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing.

What’s Next for Par-A-Dice?

Par-A-Dice casino now finds itself without a partnership, though that is not expected to be the case for very long. Well-known operator BetMGM is likely to swoop in on the vacancy. Par-A-Dice is owned and operated by Boyd Gaming, which has been in partnership with MGM Resorts International on the online gaming front since 2018.

Additionally, BetMGM currently has a pending application for approval by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). A land-based partner in Par-A-Dice could be just what the operator needs to for the IGB to sign off its license. The IGB also happens to have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 10, meaning the approval could happen as early as next week.

Should BetMGM be approved, it will join the five other operators in the market since June 2020:

Barstool Sports also announced on March 1 that its online sportsbook was coming soon to Illinois, with the Hollywood Joliet Casino providing a download link via Twitter to the Barstool Sportsbook app.

Beyond that, there also remains the probability for Unibet to open its doors to mobile betting sometime in 2021. Unibet is partnered with Argosy Casino Alton, and was approved by the IGB in September 2020.

Muddling the Landscape of Online and Retail Betting

One major point to note in Illinois is that the one-sportsbook-per-casino rule only applies to mobile skins. That means that even should the expected partnership between BetMGM and Par-A-Dice be approved, FanDuel will still be able to run the retail sportsbook on-premises inside the Par-A-Dice casino.

This situation is not unique, either. Penn Gaming owns the Argosy Casino Alton that entered into a partnership with Unibet. However, the Penn Gaming-branded Barstool Sportsbook that operates in several states will still retain the rights to the retail sportsbook inside Argosy Casino Alton. The Penn-owned Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet are also likely to open retail sportsbooks in the near future under the Barstool name, which is perfectly legal within state law.

The Sky Is the Limit for Illinois Sports Betting

Illinois has quickly risen to become the number-four sports betting market in the nation, doing so in under a year. It is expected to reach the podium and surpass Pennsylvania in short order, with the potential to continue climbing and overtake Nevada to claim the number two spot based on its trajectory thus far.

December 2020 saw a $491.7 million handle in the Land of Lincoln. Significant additions to the market in BetMGM and Barstool are likely to cause those numbers to increase at an even more rapid pace for the sixth largest state in the nation, with a population of roughly 12.6 million people.

The upcoming March Madness tournament is also likely to boost Illinois betting numbers, even if it remains illegal to bet on in-state schools such as the University of Illinois. The Fighting Illini are the number-four ranked team in the nation for NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball and could be a number one seed among the field of 68, but there remains plenty of other opportunities to wager for bettors inside Illinois state lines.

More Growth Beyond Just Sports?

All of this also comes on the heels of Rep. Robert Rita introducing another potential huge step forward for Illinois regarding internet gaming late last month. HB 3142, known as the Internet Gaming Act, could further legalize online betting, including slots, poker, and table games.

Simply put, tremendous opportunities are on the horizon all over the realm of legal gambling, and the sky is truly the limit

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