Draftkings CEO: 'Excluding Draftkings, FanDuel From Illinois Market Like Excluding Uber, Lyft From Ride Sharing Bill'

Written by:
C Costigan
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Illinois lawmakers, as part of a final hour effort this past weekend, past legislation that makes recreational marijuana legal in the state along with slots at O'Hare International Airport, a casino in Chicago and sports betting at Wrigley Field.  A little something to make everybody happy, except for two behemoth companies.

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Fantasy power houses Draftkings and FanDuel will be excluded for gambling expansion in the Prairie State.

Neither company, along with any other online-only operator, will be able to partner with an existing land-based casino for up to 18 months (down from the original proposed three years at least).

Worse still, they will not even be able to use their own brand.

Rivers Des Plaines Casino has been accused of not wanting to compete on a level playing field with DraftKings and FanDuel.

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said on Twitter: "While it is good to see sports betting bills passed, excluding DraftKings and FanDuel is like passing a ride sharing bill that excludes Uber and Lyft. Very disappointing Illinois customers will not have the best options available to them for 18 months."

This serves as quite a blow to both fantasy giants, whose early entry in the New Jersey sports betting sector has given them nearly 80 percent market share.  Both companies have since struggled to gain entry into other newly opened markets.

Draftkings does operate in West Virginia, however, that state's sports betting sector has been wrought with problems. One of the casino companies there has filed suit against its sportsbook vendor.  Unlike New Jersey where online gambling has helped fuel the sports wagering sector, West Virginia's strategically placed casinos rely more heavily on gamblers from neighboring states placing bets in person.

Pennsylvania presents its own unique set of problems.  The Keystone State has imposed the most significant tax on sportsbook operators (36 percent of their overall revenue).  FanDuel will only have a small slice of the pie in PA, opting to partner with the Valley Forge Casino.  Six sportsbooks were already up and running in the state prior to FanDuel's Valley Forge launch in March. 

Illinois' all-in approach to gambling could result in the most lucrative sports betting market so far. It's population is 6th largest in the state, on par with Pennsylvania at just shy of 13 million people.  That's four million more than in New Jersey.

Lawmakers extended the deadline for this year's legislative period by working into the weekend.  Both the House and Senate passed the gambling expansion bill that allows for slots machines to be installed at both O'Hare and Midway Airports.  Sports betting will be permitted at most sports arenas, stadiums and ballparks as well as casinos and race tracks.

The sports betting bill prohibits wagering on in-state college teams. 

J. B. Pritzker is expected to sign off on the legislation this week.

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