Rivers Casino to Open First Illinois Sportsbook in Time for March Madness

Sports Betting CartoonJust in time for March Madness, one of sports betting’s hottest times of the year, Illinois just received approval on Friday to open up the first sportsbook in the state.

The BetRivers sportsbook at Rivers Casino will be open and ready to take bets beginning at noon on Monday. Eddie Olcyzk, former Chicago Blackhawks star, was given the honors to place the very first bet.

The Illinois Gaming Board finally granted the 4,840-square-foot BetRivers Sportsbook approval to start taking bets on March 9.

The casino, who is owned by Kentucky-based gambling giant Churchill Downs and Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, said it plans to launch its official BetRivers.com website and mobile app later this year.

6 Illinois Casinos Applied for Sports Betting Status

Rivers was just one of six Illinois casinos in the state who submitted applications for sports wagering licenses.

In December, the gaming board opened up the application process, with applicants hoping to gain approval in time for March Madness.

Hollywood Casinos, which has locations in Joliet, Aurora, and Argon Casino Alton, located near St. Louis, will be releasing information on the status of their sportsbook rollouts in the “coming days.”

Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin hasn’t responded to a request for comment yet. Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino in East Peoria is further back in the application process than the rest of the casinos.

The Illinois Sports Wagering Act

The Illinois Sports Wagering Act grants the state’s 10 casinos, three horse tracks, and the seven largest sports venues in the state (they must offer 17,000-plus seating capacity) the allowance to operate a sports gaming license.

Within 18 months of the first on-site license launching, three additional, online-only, licenses will be issued. This delayed allowance on mobile sports betting is referred to as the “penalty box” provision in the press.

Sports Betting Licensee Fees

When applying for initial sports wagering licenses, fees must be collected. Take a look at the differing fees among Illinois’ casinos:

  • Alton Argosy: $1,948,186
  • Aurora Hollywood: $5,731,926
  • Des Plaines Rivers: $10,000,000
  • Elgin Grand Victoria: $7,801,967
  • Joliet Harrah’s: $8,581,742
  • Joliet Hollywood: $5,779,948
  • Metropolis Harrah’s: $3,420,849
  • Peoria Par-a-Dice: $3,641,064
  • Rock Island: $3,315,761
  • Louis Casino Queen: $4,975,750

As the chart shows, Des Plaines Rivers casino had to pay out the highest fee for licensing, while Alton Argosy had the lowest application fee.

March Madness Sports Betting Stats

March Madness is a prime betting season for sports bettors. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), an estimated 47 million Americans planned to wager $8.5 million on the NCAA Tournament in 2019.

With sports wagering becoming more legalized throughout the country, that number is only expected to go up, and this year, Illinois will get a chance to add to the stats.

Take a look at the staggering March Madness statistics found by the AGA:

  • 47 million adults in the US will wager on the NCAA Tournament.
  • 40 million people will fill out a bracket and wager $4.6 billion doing so.
  • 18 million Americans will bet $3.9 billion at some form of sportsbook.
  • 4 million will bet with an illegal bookie.
  • 2 million will bet on an illegal offshore website.
  • 1 million will wager through a regulated retail or online sportsbook.

About BetRivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino

From their official website:

BetRivers features a LED High Definition Wall and premium stadium seating sure to make you feel like you’re at the game. Monitors line the room and surround the 26-seat bar outfitted with tabletop video poker. 

BetRivers Sportsbook is currently accepting applications for Sportsbook writers and ambassadors.