DraftKings Slaps Name on Casino Queen Riverboat in Illinois

Posted on: July 23, 2020, 02:06h. 

Last updated on: July 24, 2020, 10:53h.

Casino Queen is rebranding to DraftKings at Casino Queen, the Illinois riverboat in East St. Louis, announcing today the inclusion of its forthcoming sports betting operator into its name.

DraftKings Casino Queen Illinois sports betting
Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Ill, plans to become known as DraftKings at Casino Queen. (Image: DraftKings at Casino Queen)

Less than a week after the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) granted DraftKings a temporary operating permit to conduct sports betting in the state, Casino Queen decided to include the sportsbook leader into its identity.

Casino Queen President Terry Downey said the name change is still subject to state approvals.

Casino Queen opened in 1993 as a riverboat docked in the Mississippi River. Regulatory changes in 2007 allowed the gaming venue to move inland, so long as it remained close to its original barge. The Casino Queen reopened that year with an additional 10,000 square feet of gaming space.

Today, the “riverboat” casino has 1,100 slot machines and 34 table games. It’s accompanied by a hotel and RV park, nightclub, and four restaurants.

Casino Queen is owned by its employees, who share the casino’s operational revenue. The resort’s physical assets are owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties — Penn National Gaming’s real estate investment trust.

Bypassing Regulation

Illinois’ sports betting law mandates that land-based casinos — for the first 18 months after the state issues its first sports betting license — “shall only offer internet and mobile sports wagering under the casino’s brand.” The law additionally allows casinos to operate internet sports betting through sports wagering platforms in which it has a minimum of 80 percent interest.

Rebranding Casino Queen to DraftKings at Casino Queen is seemingly a workaround of the law, thus allowing the sportsbook to immediately commence brick-and-mortar and online operations once the IGB grants formal approval.

FanDuel, which also received a temporary operating permit from the IGB, is reportedly going to use the same strategy with its partnership with the Fairmount Race Track.

Controversy Ensues

Last month, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) issued an order that allows casinos to waive the in-person sports betting registration requirement for mobile books. The order will run as long as the state remains under COVID-19 emergency orders.

Attorneys representing Rivers Casino Des Plaines, which has been formally approved to operate sports betting at its land-based casino, as well as through its mobile BetRivers.com platform, is seeking the IGB to deny the DraftKings/Casino Queen identity unification.

The proposed rule is procedurally and substantively invalid, and should immediately be withdrawn from consideration,” said attorney Paul Gaynor, on behalf of the Rivers Casino Des Plaines.

“Displaying multiple brands (including the brands of third-party service providers) is expressly prohibited,” Gaynor continued. “The Board must comply with the plain text of the Act and adhere to the General Assembly’s unambiguous intent.”