Another sportsbook has opened in Illinois. On Saturday, the day before the lucrative NFL season kicks off, PointsBet announced its mobile sports betting application was available in the state.
PointsBet’s launch has been long anticipated in the state. The agreement with the Australian-based operator and Hawthorne Race Course was officially announced just days after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the expanded gaming bill that legalized sports betting in the state into law.
PointsBet now operates in four states, with Illinois joining Indiana, Iowa, and New Jersey. Iowa is also home to the company’s first retail sportsbook.
In a statement, PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken noted the state is filled with passionate sports fans and gave insights into how his company plans to compete with BetRivers, DraftKings, and FanDuel for their deposits and wagers.
PointsBet possesses competitive advantages by owning our technology environment from end to end, such as unrivaled speed and ease of use on a personalized platform,” Aitken said. “We, together with our partner Hawthorne Race Course, are thrilled to provide the Illinois consumer with exactly what they’ve been craving.”
The company can launch mobile first thanks to an COVID-19 emergency order Pritzker re-enrolled last month that waived the in-person registration requirement for mobile accounts. The order is set to expire on Friday, but the governor can renew it.
If and when that order expires, PointsBet will be ready to account for that by having retail sportsbooks at the Cicero track and at three of its off-track betting parlors in the Chicago area. The track is seven miles from downtown Chicago and the OTBs provide coverage to a region that has about 8.7 million residents, or more than two thirds of Illinois’ entire population.
PointsBet Sees Bear Market in Illinois
One way PointsBet plans to compete in Illinois is by targeting fans of the Chicago Bears. On Saturday, the sportsbook announced that the first three Bears games of the season would become “Crowd Booster” promotions.
Similar to FanDuel’s “Spread the Love,” the PointsBet Crowd Booster updates the spread when a certain number of bettors jump on the opportunity. In this instance, for every 200 bets placed, the Bears’ spread will jump five points. By 7:30 am ET Sunday, the Bears were getting 50 points for their game against the Lions. Anyone who takes part – the maximum bet is $25 – gets the final spread.
The original line had the Bears getting just five points.
PointsBet also announced an endorsement deal with former Chicago Bears star Devin Hester.
Hawthorne CEO Likes PointsBet’s Innovation
PointsBet has brought some other unique products or features into the US sports betting market. For example, in addition to traditional sports betting opportunities, it also offers PointsBetting, which allows bettors to win or lose an exponential amount based on the outcome. For example, if the total for a pro basketball game was 200 and the teams combined to score 205 points, the bettor would win five times their bet if they picked the over.
PointsBet also has what it calls the “Karma Kommittee,” which reviews controversial decisions that may have affected outcomes of games or bets. In some circumstances, PointsBet will announce refunds on some wagers, like it did last weekend after men’s tennis star Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open when he hit a ball out of frustration and it hit an official.
“There are a lot of good reasons why we chose to partner with PointsBet, but most importantly it’s their commitment to innovation and customer excitement,” said Tim Carey, president and CEO of Hawthorne. “They truly know the passion and needs of the player and that has always been our focus in horseracing, just as it will be in the casino that we’re developing.”
Construction on Hawthorne’s $400 million casino project is currently underway. It’s expected to open late in 2021. The Illinois Gaming Board gave preliminary approval for Hawthorne’s casino license at its July 30 meeting.
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