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The moment many thought would never come is finally arriving: Illinois sports betting has a start date.

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines announced the BetRivers Sportsbook will open Monday, March 9 at noon. This will mark the first brick-and-mortar sportsbook in the state following a long and rocky path to legalization.

“The BetRivers Sportsbook will take March Madness out of the office pool and into an exciting, elevated live sports wagering experience,” said Corey Wise, senior vice president and general manager of Rivers Casino. “We are grateful to the Illinois Gaming Board staff for their work approving our sportsbook in time for the college basketball tournament—one of the greatest sports events of the year.”

Greg Carlin, CEO and co-founder of Rush Street Gaming, Rivers parent company had this to say:

“Whether you are a seasoned sportsbook player or a casual sports fan interested in this new entertainment option, we’re dedicated to an environment where all customers will enjoy themselves in this great venue within our premier casino.”

What to expect at BetRivers Sportsbook

According to the release, the sportsbook will feature a number of amenities including:

  • 4,840 square foot sports bar
  • 47-foot-wide Ultra HD LED video wall
  • 10 86-inch HD televisions
  • 4 75-inch HD television
  • 5 betting windows
  • 30 sportsbook kiosk
  • 1 full-service island bar with 32 seats
  • 26 bar-top video poker machines
  • 29 leather lounge chairs with additional table seating

“BetRivers Sportsbook meets the high bar established by the team at Rivers Casino Des Plaines as one of the most successful and unique regional gaming destinations in the country,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated, the racing, online wagering and gaming entertainment company which co-owns Rivers. “We’re excited to add this top-flight amenity to what is already a premier destination.”

What about mobile wagering and who’s next?

Unfortunately for those traveling outside the Chicago land area, mobile sports betting will not be available until later this year.

Many experts anticipated the start of the NCAA Basketball tournament would be the defacto launch date. With Rivers launching Monday, March Madness betting will be in full swing.

Additionally, the Illinois Gaming Board has announced a number of temporary permits in the past few days so there are several properties that might follow Rivers lead.

Argosy Casino Alton, owned by Penn National Gaming and Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, owned by Eldorado, are the most likely to launch next.

Other casinos receiving temporary permits are:

  • Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet
  • Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino in Peoria

For those looking for alternative options traveling from the southern part of Illinois, Horseshoe Casino and Ameristar Casino in Hammond, Indiana, each have full-service sportsbooks.

Expect fierce competition for gambling dollars between Illinois and Indiana once the Prairie State is completely up and running. Also, don’t forget about the Wolverine State which recently announced Michigan sports betting will commence on Wednesday, March 11.

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