BetMGM, Unibet, and theScore Partner With New Illinois Landscape

BetMGM Unibet theScore

Bettors in Illinois must now visit a casino to register for access to their preferred smartphone app. Although there are six options, only one mobile operator, Barstool Sportsbook, has launched in the last six months.

Unibet and BetMGM currently have their applications for the Management Services Provider license checked by the Illinois Gaming Board. To some extent, Gov. Pritzker’s decision to let his executive order expire puts these two operators in limbo. Still, it also puts them at a disadvantage when attracting customers in the state to grow.

A third operator, theScore, has a market access agreement in Illinois. Still, has yet to file the paperwork to begin the approval process.

Can BetMGM present in Peoria?

A spokesperson for BetMGM refused to comment on Pritzker’s decision to revoke the executive order.

BetMGM has long been expected to be Par-A-Dice Casino’s online skin in East Peoria, Illinois, three hours away from Chicago.

It produced $98.5 million in online handle in January and February. That places it in third and within striking distance of DraftKings for a second.

On paper, BetMGM has the potential to challenge BetRivers for third place in Illinois, as it has done in Indiana. Still, in-person registration will result in a longer timeline for that victory as Barstool expands its base.

Unibet loses a potential Chicago tie-in via Indiana

In September, Unibet first entered the Illinois market when it signed an agreement with Penn National Gaming to be Argosy Casino’s online skin in Alton.

Some Illinois bettors who already have Unibet’s Indiana app could have added it to their smartphones if Unibet had been approved for launch when Executive Order 2020-41 was in place.

“This is bad news for Illinois customers because it is a step back from what we consider an ideal setup – a smooth mobile experience,” Kindred Group General Manager USA Manuel Stan said. “As a result, we will reevaluate our timelines to release in Illinois.”

Is it a snub for theScore?

TheScore, which also refused to comment on the governor’s decision, has yet to send its application for a Management Services Provider license to the Illinois Gaming Board.

Even if Pritzker allows the executive order to expire, time is of the essence for theScore to apply its application given its goal of launching in the second half of 2021.

Sports betting apps do not exist in a vacuum for processing, and the IGB will remain one of the country’s busiest gaming regulatory bodies for the near future.

A faster path to complete remote registration?

The law now gives the board the authority to extend the application deadline. In-person registration will continue until the online license is out. Though Rep. Mike Zalewski provided possible wiggle room to “modify the rule,” it will be March 2022 at the earliest before remote registration becomes open again unless the governor intervenes again.

There is little doubt that the sports betting industry will evolve as BetMGM, Unibet, and theScore gradually join Illinois. How far it progresses can be determined by their patience — or lack thereof.

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Nassima Azmzm

Nassima Azmzm

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