One of the nation’s largest sportsbook operators is set to enter the Illinois sports betting market this year.
Circa Sports announced Monday they had received approval to build a temporary retail sportsbook facility at Waukegan’s American Place Casino, with an eye toward opening the space by fall of this year.
Derek Stevens, the founder and CEO of Circa Sports, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the facility would allow the operator to enter a new market, both for retail and online sports betting.
“We are really fired up to begin operations in Illinois,” Stevens told the Review-Journal on Monday. “The population base in suburban Chicago will provide a great market for us in northern Illinois and in Wisconsin.”
The operator’s Illinois entrance would allow it to add another market to its portfolio, joining Nevada, Iowa, and Colorado — with the American Place sportsbook serving as Circa Sport’s first retail sportsbook location outside of the Silver State.
Full House Resorts was chosen by the Illinois Gaming Board to build the Waukegan casino in December, serving as a middle ground for bettors from northern Illinois and Wisconsin. The Illinois casino expansion is part of the state’s 2019 gambling legislation, signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Illinois plans to add six casinos in the coming years, increasing the number in state to 16.
Chicago officials approved Bally’s this week to build the first casino-resort inside the city limits at Tribune Publishing Center.
A New Era for Both Parties
The agreement on Circa’s Waukegan sportsbook facility was music to Daniel R. Lee’s ears.
Lee, the president and CEO of Full House Resorts, said construction on the company’s Waukegan facility will begin shortly, allowing the company to launch the temporary facility by early June.
“More importantly, we made significant progress on our expansion plans,” Lee said in the company’s first quarter earnings call Monday. “In Waukegan, Illinois, we received approvals last week to begin construction on The Temporary at American Place, and immediately began work on site fencing and erosion control so that excavation for the foundations can begin this week.”
As part of Circa Sports’ deal with Full House Resorts, the operator will pay them $5 million per year for mobile sports betting access, Lee said, with an eight-year pact between the companies.
The facility will include a casino featuring 1,000 slot machines, 50 table games, a sportsbook, three restaurants, and a center bar.
Alex Stolyar, Full House Resort’s chief development officer, said in a press release the company is thrilled to enter a sports betting pact with Circa Sports.
“We promised Illinois a premium gaming and entertainment facility, and that includes a first-class sports book experience,” Stolyar said in the release. “We witnessed how Derek and his team have revolutionized the sports betting and viewing experience at Circa and knew that they would be the right partner for American Place.”
Circa bills its Las Vegas sportsbook as the largest in the world. The Circa Casino also features Stadium Swim, an NFL stadium-size video board displaying games and odds that overlooks the pool area.
Record-breaking March for Illinois Sports Betting
The Ides of March were kind to the Illinois sports betting community, with a record $971.278 million in handle during the third month of the year.
That figure represented a 43% increase over February, fueled in large part by a historic March Madness turnout in the state.
The Illinois Gaming Board previously announced $286.1 million was wagered on the NCAA Basketball Tournament, with $274.786 million coming from online sports betting and another $11.786 million in retail handle.
The entire month of March was just as strong, with a new monthly handle record for the state. It was the first month of fully online registration for mobile betting in Illinois.