On Friday, the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois, opened its first sportsbook. The problem is that the casino is still awaiting approval on the state to start accepting bets.
The BetRivers SportsBar opened a nearly 5,000-square foot space at the casino property on Friday near the main gambling floor. However, patrons will not be permitted to place bets at the venue until state regulators give them the green light to do so.
Awaiting Approval from Illinois Gaming Board
Rush Street Gaming and Churchill Downs Inc., the companies in charge of the casino property, are waiting for the Illinois Gaming Board to release new rules and regulations regarding sports betting. The companies are also waiting for the board to start releasing sports betting licenses, which will cost $10 million to obtain. We could see all of this happen after the board’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, December 19.
The sparkling new sports bar features a massive 47-foot ultra LED video wall with an adjustable screen that can display as many as 27 different sporting events at the same time. There are 14 additional televisions situated throughout the lounge with 32 leather lounge seats and a full-service bar. More than 24 bar seats have their own gambling touch screens, as well. There are 10 86-inch televisions and 4 more 75-inch screens lining the walls.
The new bar occupies the space that formerly housed the Cube nightclub and special events lounge. Casino officials wanted the bar to be ready before regulators issued the updated rules and regulations. Casino officials released renderings of the bar, but photographs are prohibited as of now due to the gaming board’s rules.
There is extra space for 5 betting windows with a separate betting kiosk. Walls on both sides of the bar have been equipped with the proper wiring for the odds boards to be turned on once officials grant the casino the right to start offering sports bets.
Customers Eager for Sports Betting
Corey Wise, the general manager of Rivers Casino, told the Daily Herald, “We want to be prepared and primed once we know what the Illinois regulatory requirements are. We’re ready to go once the state is ready to go.”
Customers are chomping at the bit to be able to place bets in the sparkling new lounge. Wise added that someone played the first slot in the new space less than a minute after it opened for the first time. Another patron inquired about when sports betting will be available shortly thereafter.
In November, Rivers Casino became the first in Illinois to be granted approval from the state’s gaming board to offer land-based gambling. Rivers subsequently installed 115 slot machines throughout the site. The casino, which opened its doors for the first time in 2011 as a riverboat. However, Illinois subsequently struck down the water requirement, which opened up the possibility for 6 new casinos across the state.
There are currently plans to install more slots at the property near the main entrance. The updated law gives Rivers the opportunity to add more slots and table games, and plans to expand the building are currently in development. Wise said it’s still too early to say how large the potential expansion would be, or even where on the existing space it would be located.
However, construction has already gotten underway to add another 750 parking spaces in a new 1,550-space parking garage expansion adjacent to the property. That expansion will cost about $24 million and is due to be completed sometime in the summer of 2020.
Illinois voted to approve the legalization and regulation of sports betting back in June.