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PointsBet Partners with Hawthorne Race Course for Illinois Sports Betting

Australian sports betting operator PointsBet has signed another deal to further extend its reach in the burgeoning US market.

PointsBet has reached a 20-year partnership with Hawthorne Race Course in Illinois to operate multiple in-person sportsbooks, an online betting site and a mobile betting app.

According to a press release issued this morning, PointsBet and Hawthorne Race Course will construct an on-track sportsbook after receiving their sports betting licenses from the Illinois Gaming Board.

PointsBet and Hawthorne will also construct off-track sportsbooks at various locations throughout Illinois. Additionally, they will partner on online betting through a dedicated website and mobile app that will be accessible throughout the state.

PointsBet US CEO Johnny Aitken said this in a statement:

“PointsBet is ecstatic to partner with Hawthorne Race Course, an iconic venue that has been part of the fabric of the Chicago sports and entertainment scene since its inception in 1891. Illinois sports fans are diehard in every sense of the word and we are elated to introduce them to our premium sportsbook and our innovative, bettor-first experience.”

Hawthorne Race Course President and General Manager Time Carey expressed similar levels of enthusiasm today:

“Governor Pritzker and the Legislature have given us an historic opportunity to transform the Illinois racing industry with the addition of casino gaming and sports betting. It’s an opportunity that we won’t take lightly and that’s exactly why we chose PointsBet as our partner. Our business has survived because we put players first, and PointsBet has proven they do as well.  That is how we are going to succeed together.”

Illinois Is a Big Market and PointsBet Came Prepared

Today’s announcement comes just day after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB 690 into law to legalize in-person and mobile sports betting in Illinois.

The deal puts PointsBet in prime position to capitalize as Hawthorne Race Course is located just seven miles from downtown Chicago and right in the middle of a metropolitan area that is home to nearly 10 million people.

It remains to be seen if PointsBet will find a way to operate under its own brand name in Illinois. According to our interpretation of SB 690 (see pg. 244), online providers such as PointsBet, FanDuel and DraftKings have two options for licensing in Illinois:

  1. They can partner with a local casino to offer sports betting under that casino’s brand name. The casino’s brand name must be used during the first 18 months after the first IL sports betting license is issued.
  2. They can apply for one of the three independent online operator licenses made available under the law. The three online licenses do not require a partnership with a local casino but come with a hefty 18-month waiting period that only begins after the first land-based operator receives a sports wagering license.

It seems pretty clear PointsBet has taken option number one, but the details behind its partnership with Hawthorne are limited at this point.

In any case, PointsBet has achieved a significant victory here by locking in a 20-year deal to supply one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas both in-person and online. That’s in addition to its existing operations in New Jersey, which itself hosts a big chunk of the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area.

PointsBet also has an advantage in offering a unique sports betting product unlike any other on the market. PointsBet offers standard pre-game and in-play wagers like every other betting site, but also offers a form of betting in which the amount won or lost is determined by how right or how wrong you are.

For example, PointsBet customers can take the over on an MLB game for $10 per point and earn a $10 payout for every point greater than the total the game actually sees. There’s a lot of upside in betting this way, but there’s also a lot of risk. Even so, it’s something different and that will give PointsBet a leg up in what is surely to become an ultra competitive market.

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