What To Expect When Circa Sportsbook Launches In Illinois

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

Excitement is building as Circa Sportsbook prepares to launch in Illinois. The operator is aiming to join the ranks as the eighth legal sports betting operator in Illinois later this year.

Circa is set to launch an online sportsbook in Illinois and also open a retail sportsbook at The Temporary by American Place Casino. This Full House Resorts property, located in Waukegan, opened its doors on February 17.

Operations in Illinois don’t have a definitive start date yet. However, Jeff Benson, the director of operations at Circa, informed Play Illinois that they’re aiming for an August launch in Illinois. Aaron Oster, Circa’s marketing manager, recently affirmed this timeline in a Chicago Tribune article.

Naturally, the launch is subject to final legislative approval from the Illinois Gaming Board.

Despite this, people are eager to see another new addition to the expanding list of casinos in Illinois.

Circa, an operator based in Las Vegas, operates sportsbooks in Nevada, Colorado, and Iowa. Play Illinois examined how Circa Sportsbook functions in these states and the expectations of sports bettors when it commences operations in Illinois.

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

Circa Sportsbook boasts a selection of betting options that includes some of the best odds in the country. They have active online platforms in both Colorado and Iowa.

At present, FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetRivers dominate the seven regulated sportsbooks in Illinois. An analysis by Play Illinois revealed that these three operators constitute over 75% of the Illinois sports betting market. The real question is whether Circa can establish a foothold in this fierce market.

Betting experts from PlayIowa and PlayColorado indicate that Circa is currently positioned in the middle range within those markets.

According to the revenue numbers in April for Iowa, out of 18 mobile betting apps, Circa had the eighth highest handle in the state.

Colorado doesn’t provide data specific to operators. Nonetheless, insiders believe that Circa belongs to the second tier of online sportsbooks. This places them behind the four leading US Sportsbooks, namely FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars.

Derek Stevens, the founder and CEO of Circa Sports, told Play Illinois that he is not worried about the competition in the Illinois sports betting market.

“Stevens mentioned that there are 30 competitors in Colorado, several in Iowa, and a significant number in Nevada. He added that different sportsbook models may be more suitable for different types of customers. He believes there is ample room for market growth, particularly noting the robustness of the Illinois market. Stevens expressed excitement about their upcoming presence.”

The Circa difference

Stevens stated that when Circa launches in Illinois, it will bring a fresh proposition to attract high rollers. Founded in Las Vegas in 2019, the sportsbook he established, Circa, pledges to offer a lower percentage hold and is open to substantial bets.

“Although we might have a different number of players, I believe that a low-hold model that accepts larger bets suits some customers,” said Stevens.

Temporary Circa retail sportsbook  could open this summer

Alex Stolyar, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer at Full House Resorts, informed the Tribune that the retail sportsbook of Circa at American Place is expected to open in either July or August.

Stevens stated that it’s an exhilarating opportunity.

“Introducing our exceptional sports betting and hospitality experience to Illinois is something we’re extremely excited about,” Stevens declared. “Our Las Vegas casinos have allowed us to build remarkable relationships with Midwest bettors. Therefore, expanding our services to the wonderful state of Illinois represents a significant achievement for us.”

The Temporary’s sportsbook will feature a specific betting area equipped with wagering kiosks, manual ticket counters, and digital displays showcasing live odds. Punters can enjoy watching their local teams on any of the 36 television sets, which screen sizes ranging from 60 to 80 inches.

Circa hopes to bring a Vegas-style experience to Illinois

The Temporary will host the sportsbook for a period of 2-3 years while the construction of the permanent American Place Casino is ongoing. According to Stolyar, the permanent site will boast a top-tier retail sportsbook that aligns with the quality and scale of the casino project.

“Stolyar stated, “We pledged a top-tier gaming and entertainment facility to Illinois, which encompasses a premier sports book experience. We observed how Derek and his team have transformed the sports betting and viewing experience at Circa. We were confident that they would be the ideal partner for American Place.”

Circa is renowned for its main location, which houses the world’s largest sportsbook at the Circa Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. This is also the site of Stadium Swim, a unique entertainment spot that merges six vast swimming pools with a 40-foot high-definition screen. Here, visitors can enjoy watching and placing bets on sports.

Photo Credit: C.J. Pierre

Unfortunately, Illinois will not be getting an outdoor, swim-up sportsbook. Considering the cold winter weather, this is a sensible decision.

Circa, however, is aiming to introduce a Vegas-like experience to Waukegan. The permanent American Place Casino will approximately comprise of:

  • 1,600 slot machines
  • 100 table games
  • a state-of-the-art sportsbook
  • an exclusive 20-villa hotel
  • A live entertainment venue with a capacity of 1,500 seats
  • various bars and restaurants.
Photo by Circa Sportsbook
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C.J. Pierre

Play Illinois’s Lead Writer, C.J. Pierre, has more than a decade of experience in news and sports coverage for both online and TV broadcasts. Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, he is a proud alumnus of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. Recently, he has expanded his coverage to include tribal casino and online gambling news. His reporting also covered the initiation of sports betting in Arizona. C.J.’s experience includes roles as a reporter and videographer, covering a range of sports from high school to professional level. He has notably followed the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings, and North Dakota State University football throughout his career.

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