The newly remodeled Club Hawthorne in Crestwood opened the first non-casino, off-track betting site with a sportsbook in Illinois last week.
Club Hawthorne boasts of a 163-inch HERO LED video wall, two dozen 75-inch TV screens throughout the viewing area, and a state of the art audio system. The venue has leather couches, captain’s chairs, and highboy tables for patrons, with a post COVID-19 capacity of up to 500 people.
The venue shares a building with an off-track retail betting shop which the horse track has operated since 1989 at 13148 Rivercrest Drive. The sportsbook is a partnership between Hawthorne and PointsBet.
Said PointsBet Midwest senior business operations manager Michael Teal:
“This is going to be a place where people can come down with their buddies and enjoy the game.”
First of its Kind
The owners of the new Illinois sports betting shop is advertising the venue as among the first in the country and the first of its kind in Illinois. Other sports betting shops in the state are located at casinos and racetracks.
Hawthorne and Fairmont Park are the only horse tracks licensed for Illinois sports betting.The OTB site in Crestwood is one of three OTB locations where Hawthorne is allowed to conduct legal Illinois sports betting activities as part of the Sports Wagering Act signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker in 2018. Eventually, Hawthorne will also operate OTB sites in Prospect Heights and Oakbrook Terrace.
American Pro Sports are Main Sources of Bets
American Pro Sports like the NFL, MLB, and MBA are the main sources of Illinois sports betting, accounting for about $600M of the state’s total $941.7M total handle through October. College sports and Motosports accounted for $100M apiece. Online Illinois sports betting began in June 2020 and it accounted for $873.7M of the total handle with the remaining $68M worth of bets wagered in person.
The state is capturing 15% of sports betting revenues via taxes. The taxes collected from sports betting will help pay for public parks, schools, libraries, and various capital projects other than roads and bridges.
Fairmount Park’s applications for an Illinois sports betting license was approved 4-0 by the Illinois Gaming Board during a special meeting held on Thursday morning. During the meeting, Fairmount Park was also given “preliminary suitable” status to accept casino games.
With its approval, Fairmount Park becomes the 9th applicant granted a Master Sports Wagering License by the Illinois Gaming Board since June. The approved license is valid for four years. Fairmount Park’s sports betting provider will be FanDuel and it applied for the license as FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing.
First Sportsbook at Multiple Retail Venues
FanDuel has been live in Lincoln State since since August 28th when it launched its sports betting app through a partnership with Boyd Gaming’s Par-A-Dice-Casino in East Peoria. That consortium started accepting legal Illinois sports betting transactions last September 10th.
But while FanDuel is the first Illinois sports betting company to operate in multiple venues, it won’t be the last. PointsBet, who has a partnership with Hawthorne Race Course, is planning to open three Chicago suburban off-track betting sites in the near future while DraftKings, a partner of Casino Queen, is expected to open a sportsbook at Wrigley Field in partnership with the Chicago Cubs.
Gaming Expansion Bill
Horse racing tracks were allowed to apply for casino and sports betting licenses as part of the gaming expansion bill signed into a law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June 2019. FanDuel had been in talks with Fairmount as early as February as a workaround to the 18-month waiting period from the issuance of the first sports betting license to when the Illinois Gaming Board can accept an online-only application.
With its approval, Fairmount Park thus joins Hawthorne Race Course as the only race tracks in the state permitted to conduct sports betting activities and given “preliminary suitable” status to add casino games. Arlington International Racecourse, the third race track in the state, did not apply for an Illinois sports betting or a racino license.
If its Racino application is approved, Fairmount Park stands to offer up to 900 gaming positions at slot machines and table games. The total cost of the expansion has been estimated at $50M. There is no timetable yet for the expansion as it is dependent on how fast the approval process goes.