BetRivers Becomes First to Launch Mobile Sports Betting in Illinois

Posted on: June 19, 2020, 01:07h. 

Last updated on: June 19, 2020, 10:21h.

Illinois became the 11th state in the country to offer mobile sports betting on Thursday, when BetRivers.com launched its application in the Prairie State.

BetRivers Illinois sports betting
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, seen here at a COVID-19 briefing on June 5, issued an order this month allowing sports betting apps to accept mobile registrations while casinos remained closed. On Thursday, BetRivers.com was the first app to take advantage of the order. (Image: Gov. J.B. Pritzker/Twitter)

BetRivers, which is owned by Rush Street Interactive, is the first retail sportsbook to open in the state, taking its first bet at the Rivers Des Plaines Casino on March 9. In fact, it was the only sportsbook to open before Illinois shut down casinos a week later because of the coronavirus pandemic.

We are excited to make history in bringing the first online sportsbook to sports fans in our home state, just in time as American sports are coming back into action,” said Richard Schwartz, president of Chicago-based Rush Street.

The pandemic wiped out nearly all sports over a two-month period. But UFC fighting, European soccer, NASCAR, and PGA Golf are some of the major sports betting markets that have resumed play in recent weeks. NBA and NHL action are set to return next month

Being the first to market in sports betting isn’t new for Rush Street. The company launched the first online sports betting app, PlaySugarHouse.com, in Pennsylvania, and BetRivers was one of two mobile apps to roll out a month after retail betting went live in Indiana.

Pritzker Order Allows Mobile Registration, For Now

Even as casinos remain closed in Illinois, BetRivers was able to launch its online app, thanks to an order Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued earlier this month.

Pritzker’s directive allows people to register for mobile sports betting accounts through the app or website. That’s for as long as the casinos remain closed by the COVID-19 crisis.

When Illinois passed its sports betting law last year, it called for in-person registration for the first 18 months. That meant that before a bettor could place bets on the app, they would have to go to the partnering casino first.

Illinois isn’t the only state with the requirement. Nevada and Rhode Island require it, and Illinois neighbor Iowa approved an 18-month window as well in its sports betting law. That provision will sunset at the end of this year.

Indiana, another Illinois neighbor, has allowed people to register online since sports betting became legal.

Credit, Debit Card Depositing Available Next Week

While BetRivers was able to start taking bets Thursday morning, not everything was up and running on the first day of service in Illinois.

In an interview Thursday evening with Joe Ostrowski of 670 The Score in Chicago, Schwartz said credit and debit card processing isn’t available yet for deposits.

“We were trying really hard to get it ready for launch today. But there’s an extra approval that needs to go through the regulatory process, and we’ve been told that Monday debit cards and credit cards will be available,” Schwartz said.

Other methods of deposit currently available include e-check, PayPal, and wire transfer.

In addition, an iOS app is not yet available in Illinois, meaning Apple iPhone users must access BetRivers using the browser on their phone. Android users can download the app to their phone at the website.