Legal sports betting launches in Illinois

Rivers Sportsbook, Des Plaines (Michael Roselli)
Rivers Sportsbook, Des Plaines (Michael Roselli)
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DES PLAINES, IL — After months of anticipation, the big moment for Illinois sports fans finally arrived – and just in time for March Madness.

Legal sports betting officially went live in Illinois on Monday when Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened its windows to bettors. Nearly two years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn PASPA, the Land of Lincoln became the 15th U.S. state to take bets.

An opening ceremony to introduce the Prairie State’s first regulated sportsbook kicked off the festivities, culminating in Chicago sports legend Eddie Olczyk placing the first legal wager: a $100 bet on the Chicago White Sox to win the AL pennant at 16/1 odds.

Chicagoans flocked to the BetRivers Sportsbook’s four betting windows and numerous kiosks throughout the afternoon and evening on Monday to place their first legal wagers in Illinois.

BetRivers was the first sportsbook to go live in the state, but five other casino operators have received temporary operating permits and are preparing to take bets soon: Hollywood Casino in Aurora, Hollywood Casino in Joliet, Argosy Casino in Alton, Par-A-Dice Casino in Peoria and Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.

Even though mobile sports betting is not yet available, bettors can register in person at Rivers ahead of time in order to wager from the comfort of their own homes when the BetRivers app launches. In-person registration for all mobile betting is required in Illinois for the next 18 months.

Another Midwestern jurisdiction, Michigan, is set to join the fray on Wednesday, bringing the total number of legal markets to nearly a third of all states.

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