It appears BetMGM will be the next Illinois sports betting operator to launch operations in 2022.
The operator, which is a 50/50 joint venture between MGM Resorts International and the UK’s Entain Holdings, was unanimously approved for a management services provider license by the Illinois Gaming Board on Thursday.
The approval paves the way for the operator to launch in its 20th market and first since opening in New York earlier this month.
BetMGM will partner with East Peoria’s Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino to enter the market under its management services provider license, which runs for four years. In a press release issued last week, BetMGM said it planned to launch in Illinois in the first quarter of 2022.
“We're thrilled that BetMGM is now licensed in Illinois," BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt told Casinos.com on Thursday. "We thank the Illinois Gaming Board and, pending regulatory approvals, look forward to bringing BetMGM’s leading digital sports betting experience to Illinois sports fans on March 5th, when digital registration is permitted in the state.”
With BetMGM entering the market through a partnership with a retail casino, Illinois still has yet to issue a mobile sportsbook operator’s license — at a cost of $20 million per license.
The state requires bettors to register in person at a retail location before they can use an online betting app. Originally, Illinois would only wave that provision if a mobile-only license was granted. But a law ending in-person registration by March 5 was signed in late December.
The cost of online-only licenses prompted major online operators like DraftKings Sportsbook to join forces with casinos or racetracks to enter the market. Now BetMGM joins that group.
“Today’s Board consideration of the management service provider license for BetMGM will have no effect on the March 5, 2022 date,” a spokesperson for the IGB wrote in an email to Casinos.com. “The March 5, 2022 date was added under legislation signed into law on December 17, 2021 and is a part of a completely different class of licensee’s than the management service provider license that is being considered at today’s meeting.”
There are no legal real money online casinos in Illinois.
The end of in-person sportsbook registration is expected to greatly change the sports betting landscape in the state.
No company officials spoke during Thursday’s IGB meeting, nor did any of the board’s members before approving BetMGM’s request.
The addition of a mobile sports betting mainstay like BetMGM would further cement Illinois online gambling as one of the power players in the nation.
The state has accumulated the fourth-largest handle since launching in 2019, raking in north of $8 billion, behind New Jersey ($22.7B), Nevada ($19.7B), and Pennsylvania ($11.6B), and ahead of No. 5 Indiana ($6B).
Even with online customers needing to register in-person, Illinois still saw more than $800 million in mobile sports betting handle in October — part of a state record total handle of $840.4 million for the month.
Illinois is the only one of the top five states in handle where BetMGM doesn’t already operate.