Unibet to enter Illinois sports betting market

Simona Boshkova | Published 9 Sep 2020, 9:47 a.m.

Online gambling in the United States is rising. As we’ve reported, more and more states are showing interest in legalising certain forms of online gambling. And when it comes to the operators, it’s been reported that William Hill and Caesars Entertainment are negotiating to join forces and merge their gaming operations within the US.

One of the US states where sports betting is particularly on the rise is Illinois. About a month ago, DraftKings launched their sports betting app in Illinois, together with the state casino operator Casino Queen. Now, Unibet and parent company Kindred Group announced that they have gained access to Illinois as well.

Unibet concluded an agreement with Penn National Gaming

Yesterday, Unibet and Kindred Group concluded an agreement with Penn National Gaming and gained access to provide its services in the Illinois sports betting market. In addition, Unibet is planning to expand its presence into Ohio, provided that the state legalises sports betting this fall. The agreements gave Unibet access to offer sports betting through the Argosy Casino Alton in Illinois, and through the Hollywood Casino in Ohio. Both agreements are for 10 years.

In Illinois, sports betting was legalised in June 2019 and was launched in March this year. Unibet would operate as part of the Argosy Casino which was the second casino to launch its brick-and-mortar sportsbook in Illinois, and is now one of the six sportsbooks that operate in the state. Manuel Stan, senior vice president of Kindred, expressed its excitement for establishing their brand in two key US states like Illinois and Ohio. He explained the US sports betting market as the largest gambling market in the world and said that Unibet will continue their journey to launch in further US states.

At the moment, Illinois is considered as one of the strongest sports betting markets in the US, with Chicago as the third-largest city in the country. For that reason, Stan said that now it’s a good time for Unibet to enter the Illinois market. On the other hand, Ohio has still a work to do before it accepts its first legal sports bet, but it’s making progress. The bill passed the House Finance Committee, so it’s expected that the Senate will pass the bill into law.

Barstool sportsbook app to launch in Pennsylvania

At the same time, the casino operator Penn National Gaming announced that it will test its new Barstool sportsbook app in Pennsylvania. The test is due to take place between September 15-17 and will have an initial “soft launch”. It was approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and is pending final iOS app approval. Following the test, Penn National plans to officially launch the mobile app on September 18.

The test launch will be available to a limited selection of pre-registered users who will gain access to all features of the app, including real-money wagering. Jay Snowden, president and chief executive of Penn National, said that the Barstool sportsbook app is the centrepiece of the company’s omnichannel strategy. He added that the company is working to create a sports betting experience that will appeal to Barstool’s “army” of sports betting fans.

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