After Governor J.B. Pritzker officially signed the Illinois sports betting bill into law in late June, it took no time at all for the first major sportsbook to be announced. Globally-known sportsbook, PointsBet, have announced a 20-year partnership with Hawthorne Race Course to launch the first sportsbook in the Chicago area.
PointsBet first came to the United States in Jan. 2019, joining the New Jersey sports betting market, partnering with Meadowlands Racetrack to set up their online sportsbook. While they were not as well-known as others in the market like FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook, the company quickly made news with their Good Karma Payouts program after a key pass interference no-call in the NFC Championship Game between the Rams and the Saints swayed the result of the game. PointsBet NJ gave refunds on spread and moneyline bets after the Rams ultimately won and shortly after, the NFL admitted that pass interference should have been called.
PointsBet Ready To Offer Sports Betting To A Near 10 Million In Chicago
The Hawthorne Race Course is a well-known racetrack not only in Chicago but across North America as its longest family-owned racetrack. And with access to close to 10 million people in the Chicago area, PointsBet's planned retail sportsbook with Hawthorne Race Course is set to do big business as soon as it's launched. Commenting on the new 20-year partnership, PointsBet US CEO Johnny Aitken stated,
"PointsBet is ecstatic to partner with Hawthorne Race Course, an iconic venue that has been part of the fabric of the Chicago sports and entertainment scene since its inception in 1891. Illinois sports fans are diehard in every sense of the word and we are elated to introduce them to our premium sportsbook and our innovative, bettor-first experience."
This comes after Aitken stated how the company will not be entering the Pennsylvania sports betting market, saying,
“The tax there is very onerous. ... Those operating taxes, which when you average it all out tips over 40 percent, it makes it very hard for us to enter, be aggressive on our offers and price, all the things we need to do to try to win money back from the black market.”
PointsBet, Hawthorne Race Course Excited About Illinois Sports Betting Market Prospects
Because of a provision in the new Illinois sports wagering law preventing it, PointsBet won't be able to use their branding in their partnership with Hawthorne Race Course. This isn't putting a roadblock in PointsBet's plans though, as they are committed to building up Hawthorne's branding itself.
Tim Carey, President and General Manager of Hawthorne Race Course spoke about the partnership,
"It's an opportunity that we won't take lightly and that's exactly why we chose PointsBet as our partner. Our business has survived because we put players first, and PointsBet has proven they do as well. That is how we are going to succeed together."
This law will also currently prevent PointsBet from entering the Illinois online sports betting market, as sites like PointsBet, DraftKings, and FanDuel will have to wait 18 months before being able to set up shop in the state to give priority to brands within the Hoosier State. While no plans have been made yet to launch any online sportsbooks, the PointsBet-Hawthorne partnership will extend past the retail sportsbook to 11 other off-track betting parlors, with five more planned.