Betway’s Illinois Sports Betting License Application Withdrawn after Initial Success

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European betting operator Betway has withdrawn its successful bid for an Illinois online sports betting license, ending the state’s supplemental licensing process without any operator launching.

During The Illinois Gaming Board’s (IGB) monthly meeting this week, administrator Marcus Fruchter announced Betway’s withdrawal. This leaves all three new online-only licenses unclaimed and raises questions about the $20 million license fee. Currently, there are eight regulated online sportsbooks for Illinois bettors after October’s launch of Circa Sports.

Betway was given pending approval for a license in July, but has now withdrawn before taking that any further. It has given no reason for its decision, at least publicly. The operator was in a one-horse race for a license after July saw the only other applicant, Illinois-based J&J LLC, drop out.

Betway had also submitted an application during the original online-only licensing process that ended in December 2021, but withdrew during that review process.

“That’s all that we have to say about that at this time,” Fruchter said during the meeting. “But that process unfortunately comes to an end with no license to be issued at this time.”

Second Time Unlucky

Fruchter did not state any reasons for Betway’s withdrawal, or if the IGB will have a second supplemental bidding process for prospective operators to submit applications.

Betway’s withdrawal from the Illinois sports betting market comes after it had been in the regulatory process for more than two years, having failed in its first attempt in 2021.

The Super Group sportsbook brand had also removed itself from the process of obtaining a license, leaving all three untethered online licenses vacant.

Illinois has established itself as one of the most lucrative U.S. sports betting markets, lagging behind only Ohio and New York sports betting in terms of handle and revenue. More than 96% of the all-time handle of $25.3 billion has come from mobile and online betting, rather than Illinois retail sportsbooks.

The total retail and online monthly handles have also surpassed $1 billion on five occasions. In June 2023, sportsbooks hit a $665 million handle, with $54 million in revenues.

The month after that, Digital Gaming Corporation, the subsidiary of Betway in the U.S., was approved by the IGB board for an online sports betting license as part of its continued U.S. growth strategy. However, nearly three months later, those plans are now buried.

Betway Still Active in the U.S.

Betway remains active in New Jersey online sports betting and in Pennsylvania, as well as its local British and European markets outside of the U.S. It also sponsors Major League Cricket, the latest attempt to get Americans interested in the globally popular sport.

Despite not handing out a new sports betting license as expected, the IGCB remains busy.

During the meeting, the Board also voted on the initial Management Services Provider license vote for Unibet, which submitted its application to conduct mobile wagering in November 2020.

Unibet will be tethered to Argosy Casino Alton, located near the Missouri border and St. Louis area. It already has a nearby presence in the Indiana sports betting market, where it is the mobile sportsbook partner of Horseshoe Hammond casino in the northwest part of the state, not far from Chicago.

“The Board and staff continue their important work to implement the landmark gaming expansion law and regulate Illinois’ robust and evolving statewide gaming industry in an ethical, transparent, compliant, and efficient manner,” said Fruchter.

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