Betway Declines Entering Illinois Sports Betting Marketplace

The Illinois sports betting marketplace won’t be Betway’s tenth sportsbook state because the operator bowed out of its online-only license application. On Oct. 26, attendees of the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) meeting learned the bidding process ended without any operators receiving licenses.

Betway had been one of two would-be online-only sportsbooks, IGB Executive Director Marcus Fruchter said on Thursday. Betway also operates online casino apps in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Fruchter didn’t name the operator who requested to leave the process on July 24.

With Betway out, Fruchter said:

As a result, there are no qualified bidders or applicants.

Betway Isn’t Alone

This isn’t the first time online-only license applications have been withdrawn. CaliPlay left an earlier bidding process. Since then, the Mexican online gambling operator half of the joint venture with Playtech (Playtech PLC 489,00 -1,21%) has sought to end that relationship.

However, even though the $20 million license fee for the standalone apps is hefty, the Illinois sports betting marketplace seems to be an attractive one. Its revenue in the 3-year-old market is among the top in the country. Fruchter announced the most recent results on Thursday. Illinois sportsbooks generated nearly $47 million in adjusted gross gaming revenue (GGR) during August.

The prospects may have looked good to Circa Sports, which soft-launched its app on Sept. 29. On Oct. 4, the operator held its retail sportsbook grand opening at American Place Casino in Waukegan. (Circa has a regular sports betting license that partners the operator with a land-based casino. The price tag on those is $10 million.)

Unlike the online-only option Betway just exited, the $10 million licenses also provide the holder with the option to add online casino gambling apps once that’s legalized.

Legal Gambling Expansion Continues

The Illinois sports betting marketplace has plenty of legal gambling company, and the state’s 13 million residents may soon see more.

On March 10, an online casino bill introduced by state Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr., D-Chicago, died in committee. On March 30, the Illinois lawmaker told Bonus he’d introduce an iGaming bill in 2024.

At that time, he told Bonus:

iGaming is inevitable, it’s just a matter of when and how.

Meanwhile, legal gambling expansion continues. Bally’s Chicago is joining the state’s current 11 commercial casinos. Illinois, which has no tribal casinos, saw $2.14 billion in GGR from those retail casinos in 2022. Those figures are courtesy of the gambling industry’s trade organization, the American Gaming Association (AGA).

The $1.9 billion Bally’s (Bally’s Corporation 13,04 -0,61%) project will be the first casino within Chicago’s borders. However, much like population estimates showing 2.6 million residents of the Windy City, those numbers don’t reveal the whole picture.

Chicago will have one retail casino, but its metropolitan area will house five once the construction is done. That handful of gaming establishments will serve 9 million people.

Some of those 9 million people live in Indiana, where Betway Sports has already launched.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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