Rivers Casino has filed a complaint to the Illinois Gaming Board for their proposed co-branding rule for online sportsbooks.

  • The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) would like to make co-branding of sportsbooks a reality in the state and has brought the topic up for public opinion before any decisions are made.
  • Rivers Casino, and the people behind BetRivers Online Sportsbook, have filed a complaint claiming the IGB is not in the position to be able to make changes to the sports betting laws of the state.

CHICAGO – Recent discussions for changes to the Illinois sports betting laws have led to a co-branding rule that is currently being challenged by Rivers Casino and their legal team.

While this may seem like a cosmetic change to the law that is already in place, it has the potential to cause bigger issues which is why the casino has submitted this grievance toward the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) and their decision to allow for this addition pending a public window for comments.

Rivers Casino became the first to launch their online sports betting platform, BetRivers Online Sportsbook on June 18 where gamblers could sign up for memberships from home rather than using in-person registration, as is part of the law that has been lifted momentarily due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The Domino Effect Of A Co-Branding Rule

While on the surface this doesn’t seem like a big enough issue to involve being challenged, it deals with more than just co-branding. The Sports Wagering Act had very detailed rules as to the branding of strictly online sportsbooks in Illinois.

The IGB took it upon themselves to draft an emergency rule known as 1900.1260 that has been tacked onto the Act and is now open to opinions by the people of the state before being made permanent.

This rule would make it so that internet/mobile sports betting operators could be fully operational as long as they use the name of the retail location they have partnered with somewhere within their platform.

By law, internet-only sports betting outlets of the Prairie State cannot be issued licenses until 540 days after land-based sportsbooks were opened. The countdown began on April 9.

The law also states that the IGB can only approve three licenses for online-only sports betting operations.

With the co-branding rule, both of these things could be bypassed. And not only that, it would cause a huge decrease in fees that legal sports betting operators would have to pay as they would no longer need to pay the fees connected to an individual business if they are partnered with a casino.

An individual license to operate without a partnership is set at $20 million, with only three allowed in the state and a wait of almost two years before licenses could even be applied for let alone set up launches for their sportsbooks.

If an operator decided to co-brand, they could open their internet sports betting platform with a master license issued by the IGB at a fee of $10 million, cutting their costs in half and allowing them to open up much more quickly as they would not have to wait for an extended period of time.

They would also not be seen as a part of the minimal individual licenses offered either because technically they’re working with a partner as long as they represent the name of the casino somewhere on their application.

DraftKings and FanDuel are aware of all of this and have already applied for their master licenses with the IGB in preparation for a co-branding rule being approved.

This would be a way for online sportsbooks to make it into the Illinois sports betting market and cut through all of the red tape the law originally gave them, to do so.

Now What?

Should the public agree and Rivers legal issue not make it anywhere, that would be a financial loss for Illinois in fees alone.

Granted that could almost certainly be covered by the business that sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings could bring to the Illinois sports betting market.

However, Rivers Casino and their complaint actually hold weight in terms of legalities as the IGB cannot change parts of the law on their own. How Illinois intends to deal with this issue is any one’s guess but as far as the law is concerned, Rivers’ case is black and white.

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