Big deal here, literally. PointsBet yesterday announced a 20-year partnership with Hawthorne Race Course to deliver sports betting to the Chicago area, a metropolis that counts 9.5 million people.



Why this is such a big deal

Illinois, along with Pennsylvania and New York, is among the largest states to legalize sports betting and represents a huge opportunity to increase the size and scope of betting in America. PointsBet has now put itself in pole position there.

In addition to opening a location at Hawthorne Race Course, PointsBet will get to open three off-track betting locations in and around the Chicago area. When you look at a map, it becomes clear that they are poised to dominate the market through literal positioning. This becomes all the more important when you consider that for the first 18 months of online betting in Illinois players will have to go in to a physical sportsbook location to sign up for an online app.

Following the launch of their online sportsbook in New Jersey, PointsBet quickly emerged as a favorite betting app among players, even if it still falls far behind market leaders DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook in terms of handle.

PointsBet’s mobile betting app offers class-leading technology and user-friendliness, a claim that is backed literally by the operator’s marketing department, which offers early payouts and Karma Committee refunds for bad beats.

They have also established themselves as a retail brand, branding Top Golf locations in New Jersey, and now, betting locations in Illinois.


The mobile aspect

More important than having a “physical sportsbook” in and around Chicago will be having locations for users to register during the first 18 months of betting.

DraftKings and FanDuel are effectively shut out of the market for that period of time, due to what many perceive to be a penalty built into legislation after both companies offered daily fantasy in the state even after the attorney general declared it to be gambling.

So now PointsBet, already an online sportsbook with technology in the class of the two leaders, will have a head start and four locations in and around Chicago to sign up users before the big boys enter the market.

Big F-ing deal.

The whole thing is presumed to have been worked on and negotiated by Paul Hannon, PointsBet’s VP of Strategy, a Philly guy and former WilliamHill exec who is a driving force behind PointsBet’s rapid growth.

What’s more, PointsBet, unlike many casino operators, will not be significantly impacted by a recent Apple App Store policy that requires gambling apps to be coded natively for iOS. Their technology is compliant.

The opportunity in Illinois, particularly the Chicago area, is massive. And PointsBet is now poised to be the early leader.


Full disclosure: PointsBet is a Crossing Broad partner in New Jersey.