Online sports bettors in Illinois will soon be welcoming another online sportsbook, as Barstool Sportsbook has begun promoting its imminent launch in the Land of Lincoln. An official launch date has yet to have been set, however, the cutting-edge online sports betting app should be available before the start of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The online campaign promoting the launch has already begun on social media platforms, and the impending Illinois launch will mark the third state where Barstool Sportsbook will be eligible to accept online wagers alongside Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Tweets sent out from both Hollywood Casino locations in Aurora and Joliet trumpeted the Barstool announcement as Dave Portnoy, Big Cat, and the rest of the informal gang from Barstool Sports will increase their sports wagering presence for their loyal online fan base – the “Stoolies.”
Barstool’s launch a shot in the arm for the Illinois Sports Betting Industry
Welcoming Barstool Sportsbook to the online sportsbook mix in the Land of Lincoln looks set to create an even more competitive sport betting market, and as it has already been in Pennsylvania and Michigan, Barstool will be a hit with the younger 18-to-30 generation of online bettors whose fan loyalty to Dave Portnoy in particular is already the stuff urban legend in-the-making.
Barstool Sportsbook has quickly established itself as a top sportsbook in Michigan and Pennsylvania, ranking a solid third in handle behind industry giants, FanDuel and DraftKings, among 12 online sportsbook operators in the Keystone Stone and another excellent third-placed result in Michigan among the sportsbook operators in the first online revenue reports reported in January there for the first 10 days of operation in the Wolverine State.
Barstool also has a bricks-and-mortar presence in Indiana, entering the neighboring Hoosier State in December 2020 in addition to its Colorado land-based sportsbook operations. The sportsbook’s reach will continue to grow across the country under the leadership of their industry partner, Penn National Gaming, which acquired a 36% stake in Barstool in January 2020. In addition to ambitious plans to launch the Barstool Online Sportsbook brand in every legal jurisdiction in the United States by the close of 2021, Penn National plans to open land-based sportsbooks and establish the brand online in states where it operates casinos, and where regulations permit.
The partnerships with the Penn properties, Ameristar Casino in East Chicago in Indiana, plus Hollywood Casino in Illinois establishes Barstool within three retail locations all approximately an hour’s drive of downtown Chicago.
For the time being at least, a mere 5 online sportsbook operators are on the scene in Illinois, with DraftKings overcoming a seven-week head start to main rivals behind BetRivers last summer to already be placed as the Land of Lincoln’s leading online sportsbook in terms of betting handle. The Illinois Gaming Board reported a whopping online sportsbook betting handle of $491.7 million in December 2020 — the fourth highest total of any state with legalized sports betting (behind New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania) — and $194 million of that monster number was generated by DraftKings.
FanDuel pipped BetRivers for second in the official December Illinois report as all three operators topped $100 million in handle for the first time. To date, William Hill and PointsBet are the other online sportsbook operators in Illinois. However, with the Illinois Gaming Board due to meet again shortly, it feels like the time is ripe for the nascent Illinois online sports betting industry to take its next giant leap forward, approve a range of new online sportsbook operators and by doing so, progress further down the path towards sports betting market maturity.