Unibet To ‘Reevaluate’ Illinois Launch Timeline; No Word On BetMGM’s Plans

Written By Joe Boozell on April 9, 2021Last Updated on November 30, 2021
unibet illinois launch

At least one of the two pending sports betting applicants in Illinois is changing its launch plans due to the return of the in-person registration requirement.

Unibet, which submitted its application on November 16, 2020, was just waiting for the Illinois Gaming Board ( IGB) to approve it before going live.

Play Illinois was informed by senior vice president of Unibet US, Manuel Stan:

& ldquo, This is unfavorable information for Illinois clients because it goes against what we believe to be the ideal setup and smooth mobile experience. We will reconsider our timetable to start in Illinois based on this. & rdquo,

Unibet has a market access deal with Argosy Casino Alton.

Alton, though, is a town of fewer than 30,000 people in southwest Illinois. And while it’s about 30 minutes from St. Louis, Missouri residents would not be able to download Unibet in IL and use it in their home state. Sports betting is not legal in Missouri.

Although Unibet would hold Argosy’s mobile license, the casino is using Barstool as its retail partner.

It & rsquo is initially difficult enough to convince people to register in person. However, it is, at best, very perplexing to ask them to get Unibet at a casino using Barstool Sportsbook.

The best option, according to Unibet & rsquo, is to wait for new legislation or to hold out hope that someone will eventually pay$ 20 million for an online-only license.

That would free up remote registration for everyone.

How does BetMGM fare in Illinois?

BetMGM is the other pending Illinois sports betting applicant.

When asked about this narrative, BetMGM declined to respond. However, this is what we know about the situation.

BetMGM could likely secure market access with Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria. Once FanDuel switched its mobile sports betting license to its racetrack, the Par-A-Dice license opened up.

Boyd Gaming owns Par-A-Dice Casino, and Boyd and BetMGM have a partnership.

The problem, of course, is that East Peoria is almost a three-hour drive from the populace Chicago area. BetMGM Sportsbook would be entering the Illinois market at a severe disadvantage, considering most the existing operators had months to register users online.

Its alternative is to spend more than$ 20 million on a license that only applies to mobile devices. Of all the operators who do not now reside in Illinois, BetMGM most likely has one of the deepest hands.

Putting money aside, their problem is that once a mobile-only license is issued, companies can register online.

However, BetMGM may decide that & rsquo is still the best option for them in Illinois. We might be alerted to their thinking if it doesn’t build in Illinois anytime soon.

If a passport is granted solely online, it most probably won’t take effect until early 2022.

Consider theScore Bet.

Finally, theScore Betsecured Illinois market access a few weeks ago, thanks to a partnership with Harrah’s Joliet Casino.

TheScore stated at the time that by the end of the year, it hoped to move to the Land of Lincoln, and a spokesperson for the company claims that the information has no bearing on its timeframe.

In contrast to Unibet and BetMGM, theScore Bet has not yet submitted a formal passport application. Additionally, approval can take some time, as we & rsquo have seen with the first two.

More sportsbooks joining the mixture was the key to Illinois’s growth in sports betting, in addition to continued distant registration.

In-person registration not only makes it very challenging for existing operators to attract new clients, but it also creates an undesirable market for prospective operators.

Illinois nearly cracked $600 million in monthly handle in January. With March Madness betting, it may clear that threshold. However, with the return of in-person registration, March will likely be the highest mark the state will see for a while.

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Boozell, Joe

Boozell, Joe has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene … you can imagine how that went.

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