FanDuel Now Live In Illinois, With Time Of The Essence For Registration

Written By Derek Helling on August 28, 2020 - Last Updated on November 12, 2020
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If you’re in Illinois and think you might ever bet on FanDuel online, now’s the time to at least register for the sportsbook.

The sportsbook launched in IL thanks to its facility partner in the state on Friday, Aug. 28. The state’s third legal sports betting app not only expands the options for bettors in Illinois but also adds another chapter to an ongoing drama.

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Details on the new FanDuel Illinois sportsbook

The full name of the online and eventual retail sportsbook is actually FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook. The Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, Illinois, negotiated the name change because of a unique branding rule in the state.

Illinois sportsbook regulations state that master license holders’ branding must be foremost prominent on online sports betting apps and websites. As Par-A-Dice, not FanDuel, holds that license, that rule would have required the casino’s name to be the prominent branding. The name change is a way to circumvent that.

The brick-and-mortar component of the sportsbook is not yet open for business. Several regulatory steps remain before that can take place, which makes the most recent executive order concerning sports betting from Gov. JB Pritzker crucial.

Technically, Illinois has an in-person registration requirement for online wagering right now. Pritzker has suspended the enforcement of that until at least Sept. 19, however.

For that reason, Illinois bettors can complete their registrations completely on their computers, smartphones, and tablets until then. Pritzker has already let a similar EO expire once, so the time for Illinoisans to act is now.

Presumably, after Sept. 20, bettors in IL who want to place wagers on FanDuel will have to make the trip to East Peoria first. The in-person mandate is part of why FanDuel’s launch is remarkable in an entirely different context.

FanDuel’s role in the creation of the in-person requirement

For those who may not be familiar with FanDuel’s history in Illinois, it’s an intriguing story. The drama involves daily fantasy sports, a hockey metaphor, a pair of Madigans, but no birds or fruit trees.

The tale begins in 2015 when Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an opinion that the kind of paid-entry for real cash prize DFS contests FanDuel offered to Illinoisans online constituted illegal gambling. FanDuel’s response was less than desirable for the state.

FanDuel essentially ignored the opinion and kept right on accepting paid entries and giving out cash prizes in the state. Madigan never prosecuted anyone, but she wasn’t the best person for FanDuel to defy.

On top of being the state’s AG, she is also the daughter of long-time Illinios Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. Now, it’s never advisable to ignore a ruling from the top law enforcement officer in a state, but even less so when she’s connected by blood to arguably the most powerful legislator in that same state.

So when legislators like the elder Madigan were considering expanding gambling to legalize sports betting, the issue of FanDuel’s presence in the state in a DFS context came up. The concern was that because FanDuel had a ready-made list of potential clients through its DFS games, other potential operators in the state would be at a disadvantage.

As a result, the state took a page right out of a Chicago Blackhawks game and created a “penalty box” of sorts for FanDuel. The in-person mandate is part of that.

The state legalized online sports betting but did so with a couple of caveats. FanDuel’s launching now sort of defies them.

Why FanDuel’s launch now is important and somewhat defiant

Illinois law says that online sportsbook operators have two methods for licensure. They can negotiate a management services provider with an Illinois casino, off-track betting site, racetrack, or sports stadium that has a master license and get an accompanying permit.

The other option is to pay $20 million and secure one of three online-only licenses. That’s where the penalty box comes in, however. The Illinois Gaming Board can’t issue any of those licenses until 540 days after the first retail sportsbook in the state opens.

Additionally, until the IGB issues one of those licenses, online bettors must register in-person at facility partners. As previously mentioned, however, that’s in suspension due to Pritzker’s order.

The clock did start ticking on that 540-day wait on March 9, when Rivers Casino in Des Plaines accepted face-to-face bets. Still, FanDuel going live before the close of that window is a small win for the brand.

It’s still short of a clear victory, however. FanDuel does have to share its revenue with Par-A-Dice this way. Additionally, after Pritzker’s EO expires, the in-person mandate could limit the sportsbook’s growth in IL.

Regardless, it’s a win for FanDuel to get live in the state before the start of the 2020-21 NFL season. Unless there are more developments between now and then, it will only have two competitors (BetRivers Sportsbook and DraftKings) in the state when the season kicks off on Sept. 10.

FanDuel Illinois is now live online and that’s remarkable given the circumstances. For bettors in Illinois, however, a third online sportsbook does mean more ways to win.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling