FanDuel, who had been eyeing the Illinois betting market with the help of Fairmount Park Racetrack, has received a sports betting license.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has found Fairmount Park near St. Louis feasible for a gaming license and granted the racetrack a master sports wagering license. The development comes amid further restrictions in the wake of the pandemic.

Fairmount Park was not among the early applicants when IGB was giving out its sports betting licenses. However, last week, the racetrack finally received the license. FanDuel will be eying to launch another sportsbook with Fairmount as it will turn into a racino with slots and table games available.

The Board granted Fairmount Park a master sports wagering license at a special meeting held on October 29. The meeting also gave the track a “preliminary suitable” status to allow casino games.

It appears that the track will go by a new name to feature the FanDuel brand as FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing. The track will transform into a racino, besides offering a full slate of slots and table games, if it is granted a casino license.

The latest development in Illinois sports betting will put FanDuel Sportsbook on a more even playing field with its leading competitors like DraftKings and BetRivers. More importantly, the decision makes FanDuel the first sportsbook to offer betting at multiple retail venues in Illinois.

Path to Illinois for FanDuel

FanDuel’s initial launch in the Land of Lincoln was with Par-A-Dice Casino, yet this was unexpected as many assumed FanDuel would be entering Illinois through a partnership with Fairmount Park.

Fairmount is situated east of St. Louis. Its position could have been critical in the Illinois market, given the in-person registration requirement. In contrast, Par-A-Dice is almost the center of the state and is hours away from Chicago and St. Louis.

However, the pandemic changed the situation, coinciding with the time Illinois sports betting launched in March. Governor JB Pritzker suspended the in-person requirement back in June as casinos were closed.

Although executive orders saw suspension and lifting of the temporary ban on in-person requirement since then, it remains in place for now. The deteriorating situation of the pandemic in the face of the so-called second wave of the virus may lead to another extension in November.

Fairmount Park and FanDuel

Fairmount Park grabbed the opportunity that was ever-shrinking thanks to the virus. While justifying the application for the licenses, President and General Manager of Fairmount Park Melissa Helton said people had been losing interest in horse race betting. She said the gaming bill gave them the right to apply to become a racino, and the sports wagering opportunity could elevate Illinois horse racing to its past glory.

With Fairmount obtaining a betting license, FanDuel now gets a significant boost in the Illinois market. Fairmount sits in Collinsville, a few miles from St. Louis, whereas FanDuel is currently paired with Par-A-Dice Casino in Peoria, which is at the center of the state. Now that Fairmount is authorized to take legal bets, FanDuel will again benefit from a great location, as the sportsbook is situated 11 miles away from the Illinois-Missouri border.

However, if Gov. Pritzker decides not to grant an in-person registration extension, it could hurt FanDuel’s business interest as it sits in the middle of the state. Nevertheless, with Fairmount now gaining its license, FanDuel may rapidly work to get a sportsbook operating at the location to capitalize on the St. Louis market in the south of the state.

After receiving the license, Fairmount tweeted a statement, “We would like to send a big Thank You to Melissa Helton, President & GM of Fairmount. With her continued guidance and determination, we’re extremely excited to announce that we have been approved by the Illinois Gaming Board to take the next steps.”

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