Despite two attempts to seek applicants, the state has yet to find a company interested in offering online-only Illinois sports betting. That was the announcement Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter made at Thursday’s board meeting.
Fruchter told board members that Digital Gaming Corp., which operates as Betway, asked to withdraw its bid for a license earlier this week and that he granted the request. At July’s meeting, DGC was declared the only winner for one of the three available licenses.
The 2019 expanded gaming law passed by Illinois lawmakers allowed for the state’s casinos and racetracks to partner with sports betting operators that could operate both brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and online applications. The law also set aside three online-only licenses for Illinois sportsbook apps to be put up for a competitive selection process 18 months after the first sports betting license was issued. In addition to facing a delay in entering the market, the online-only licenses carried a $20 million fee, far higher than the cost for the licenses tied to Illinois gaming operators.
The first round of applications led to the IGB picking just one applicant, Tekkorp Digital Acquisition Corp. Tekkorp was seeking to purchase Mexican-based operator Caliente Interactive. However, that deal fell through a year ago, leading to the application being pulled. A supplemental bidding process ended in March with two applicants. One pulled out of the process before the July meeting.
Fruchter did not say whether another application period would take place.
“That’s all that we have to say about that at this time, but that process unfortunately comes to an end with no license to be issued,” he said.
With Betway out of the picture, Fanatics Illinois is expected to be the next sportsbook to go live in the state.
Bally’s Gets More Time for Temporary Chicago Casino
The IGB also approved a request by Bally’s Corp. to operate its temporary casino in Chicago for an additional year, meaning it will be able to operate at the Medinah Temple until Sept. 9, 2026.
Rhode Island-based Bally’s, which won the rights to the only Chicago casino license, opened its temporary venue last month in the historic building. It’s planning to build a $1.7 billion resort at the Chicago Tribune printing plant in the city’s River West neighborhood. Mark Wong, Bally’s vice president and the casino’s general manager, told the board the company expects to take possession of the Tribune property next July.
“It is a huge project, and it’ll probably take every bit of the two-to-two-and-a-half years that will be required to build it,” Wong said.
Bally’s also received its final owner’s license from the IGB, as did Danville Development, which owns the Golden Nugget Casino in the central Illinois town on the Indiana state line, and Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, located in the southern part of the state between Carbondale and Marion.
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