theScore Secures Illinois Mobile Access Through Harrah’s Joliet

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Canadian-based sportsbook theScore secured mobile access in the state of Illinois on Monday, reaching agreement on a 10-year deal with Harrah’s Joliet Hotel & Casino.

theScore is already accepting mobile sports bets in Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, and New Jersey, having entered the Hoosier State as the second skin of Ameristar Casino — near the Illinois state line and Chicago — last September. It ranks behind DraftKings in the pecking order there but has generated more than $11 million in handle since launch.

“Gaining market access to Illinois is a significant development that will bring our award-winning mobile sportsbook to one of the most populous states,” said theScore Chairman and CEO John Levy in a statement. “Caesars is a giant in the casino-entertainment industry and we’re thrilled to have reached this agreement to extend theScore Bet’s footprint into another key new market.”

theScore hopes to go live with its mobile sportsbook in Illinois in the second half of the year provided all relevant licenses and approvals come from the Illinois Gaming Board. There are currently six mobile sportsbooks operating in the Prairie State, with Barstool Sportsbook the most recent to launch March 11.

Two other mobile operators — BetMGM and Unibet — are in the applicant queue for a Management Services Provider license, according to the IGB official website.

The IGB confirmed via email it has yet to receive an application from Des Plaines Development Limited Association (d/b/a Harrah’s Joliet) for an Owner’s sports betting license, and that theScore has yet to apply for a Management Services Provider license.

The announcement leaves Harrah’s Metropolis, which is along the Illinois-Kentucky border, as the lone casino that has no sports betting tie-ins among the 10 in the state. Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island applied for a license in late December and is expected to have Bally’s as its sports betting operator.

Seven casinos and two of the state’s three race tracks — Hawthorne Race Course and the newly rebranded FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing — all are accepting wagers, and Hawthorne also has two off-track betting sites in Crestwood and Prospect Heights accepting wagers via PointsBet.

theScore looking to carve out spot in Illinois

Regardless of when it launches in Illinois, theScore will be entering a highly competitive market despite a low number of operators. The Prairie State, thanks in part to Gov. JB Pritzker’s multiple renewals of Executive Order 2020-41 — which suspends the in-person registration provision to obtain access to mobile sports betting — has quickly established itself as a top-four market nationally.

Illinois has generated more than $2.3 billion in mobile wagering since its June 2020 launch, and nearly 99% of its record $581.5 million handle in January — the most recently available report provided by the IGB — came via online bets. DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers have emerged as the primary choices for bettors, with PointsBet and William Hill — another Caesars property — completing the top five.

Unless Barstool Sportsbook parent Penn National Gaming offers any clues about its Illinois numbers from its upcoming quarterly report, Barstool’s impact would likely not be known until mid-May, which will be when the IGB releases its March sports betting report.

State rules regarding sportsbook accounting have resulted in what has usually been a six-week lag from the end of a month to the IGB’s corresponding report.

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Chris Altruda has been a sportswriter with ESPN, The Associated Press, and STATS over more than two decades. He recently expanded into covering sports betting and gambling around the Midwest.

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