What To Expect When Circa Sportsbook Launches In Illinois

Written By C.J. Pierre on May 18, 2023
Circa sportsbook

Anticipation is growing ahead of Circa Sportsbook’s launch in Illinois. The operator is hoping to become the eighth legal Illinois sports betting operator later this year.

Circa will launch both an online sportsbook in Illinois and open a retail sportsbook at The Temporary by American Place Casino, a Full House Resorts property in Waukegan which opened on Feb. 17.

There isn’t an exact date on when operations in Illinois will be up and running. However, Circa’s director of operations Jeff Benson told Play Illinois that the sportsbook hopes to launch in Illinois by August. Circa’s marketing manager Aaron Oster recently confirmed that timeline in a story in the Chicago Tribune.

Of course, the launch is pending final legislative approval from the Illinois Gaming Board.

Regardless, folks are excited to see another addition to the growing list of Illinois casinos.

Circa, a Las Vegas-based operator, runs sportsbooks in Nevada, Colorado and Iowa. Play Illinois took a closer look at how Circa Sportsbook operates in those other states and what sports bettors can expect when Circa opens in Illinois.

Can Circa’s Illinois online sportsbook keep up with the rest of the pack?

Circa Sportsbook touts a betting menu of options that features some of the country’s best odds. Their online operations are up and running in Colorado and Iowa.

Currently, the seven regulated Illinois sportsbooks are dominated by FanDuel, DraftKings and BetRivers. A Play Illinois analysis found that those three operators make up over 75% of the Illinois sports betting market. The question is can Circa find some footing in this competitive market?

According to betting experts with PlayIowa and PlayColorado, Circa is currently hovering in the middle of the pack in those markets.

Based on Iowa’s April revenue numbers, Circa brought in the eighth highest handle out of Iowa’s 18 mobile betting apps.

Colorado doesn’t release operator-specific data. However, people in the know there believe Circa is in the second tier of online sportsbooks. That would put them behind the four major US Sportsbooks; FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars.

Regarding the Illinois sports betting market, Circa Sports founder and CEO Derek Stevens told Play Illinois that he isn’t concerned about the number of competitors.

“There’s 30 competitors in Colorado, there’s quite a few in Iowa and obviously in Nevada, there’s a lot,” said Stevens. “One sportsbook model may be great for a certain type of customer and another model might be better for a very different kind of customer. So, I think there’s a lot of room to continue to grow the market and Illinois so far has been very, very robust. We’re excited about showing up.”

The Circa difference

When Circa does launch in Illinois, Stevens said the sportsbook he founded in 2019 in Las Vegas will offer a unique selling proposition aimed at appealing to high rollers. Namely, Circa promises a lower percentage hold while also welcoming large bets.

“The quantity of players is maybe a little bit different for us, but I think a low-hold model that takes larger wagers is a model that suits some customers,” Stevens said.

Temporary Circa retail sportsbook  could open this summer

Alex Stolyar, the senior vice president and chief development officer of Full House Resorts, told the Tribune that Circa’s retail sportsbook at American Place will likely open in July or August.

Stevens said it is an exciting opportunity.

“We are thrilled to introduce our industry-leading sports betting and hospitality experience to Illinois,” said Stevens. “We have developed incredible relationships with Midwest bettors at our Las Vegas casinos. So, to bring our product to the great state of Illinois is a major milestone for us.”

The sportsbook at The Temporary will include a dedicated wagering area with betting kiosks, physical ticket windows and digital boards with real-time odds. Bettors can watch their hometown teams play on 36 TVs, ranging from 60 to 80-inch screens.

Circa hopes to bring a Vegas-style experience to Illinois

The sportsbook will be open at The Temporary for 2-3 years while the permanent American Place Casino is being built. Stolyar said the permanent location will feature a best-in-class retail sportsbook to match the quality and scale of the casino development.

“We promised Illinois a premium gaming and entertainment facility, and that includes a first-class sports book experience,” said Stolyar. “We witnessed how Derek and his team have revolutionized the sports betting and viewing experience at Circa, and knew that they would be the right partner for American Place.”

Circa is best known for its flagship location, home to the world’s largest sportsbook at Circa Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. That’s also where you’ll find Stadium Swim, which combines six huge swimming pools with a 40-foot tall high-definition screen for watching and betting on sports.

Photo Credit: C.J. Pierre

Sadly, an outdoor, swim-up sportsbook won’t be coming to Illinois. Given the chilly winter weather, that is an understandable decision.

However, Circa is hoping to bring a taste of Vegas to Waukegan. The permanent American Place Casino will include approximately:

  • 1,600 slot machines
  • 100 table games
  • a state-of-the-art sportsbook
  • an exclusive 20-villa hotel
  • a 1,500-seat live entertainment venue
  • various bars and restaurants.

Photo by Circa Sportsbook
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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at Play Illinois. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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