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DraftKings Opens New Retail Sportsbook At Casino Queen

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
The 'will you get shot on the way to the sportsbook' prop is very popular.
  • DraftKings has opened a permanent retail sportsbook at Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois.
  • The company opened a temporary sportsbook at the property in mid-2020.
  • A pointless regulatory provision required DraftKings to get their name on the casino in order to offer mobile betting under their brand name.

First, the good news–DraftKings has opened a swank new retail sportsbook at the Casino Queen in Illinois. Now the bad news–it’s in East St. Louis, Illinois which is one of the most dangerous places in the United States. More bad news–DraftKings probably wouldn’t be anywhere near East St. Louis were it not for a stupid regulatory requirement.

I’ve seen pictures of the new sportsbook and it looks really nice. It replaces a temporary sportsbook that opened at the property in mid-2020 and weighs in at 6,000 square feet. It has everything you’d want from a retail sportsbook with a 60 foot video wall, dozens of high-def video screens, a VIP area and more than 30 betting kiosks. There will also be a redesigned bar offering ‘contemporary elements with industrial details’ serving food you’d expect to eat in a sportsbook like burgers, pizzas and sammiches. The sportsbook was designed by JCJ Architecture, a company that has done a ton of work in the gaming industry.

Here’s what Michael Kibort, Sr. Director, Retail Sportsbooks at DraftKings, said about the posh new sportsbook:

“It’s exciting to see our shared vision of bringing DraftKings’ innovative mobile app to life with an incredible in-person experience at the new DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook. Through the amazing support of, and collaboration with, Casino Queen, we have created a premier destination for guests to enjoy for years to come.”

You probably noticed that Kibort referred to the property as ‘DraftKings at Casino Queen’. There’s a funny story about that–DraftKings *had* to get their name on the casino in order to comply with an insipid regulatory requirement (emphasis added):

In July 2020, DraftKings Inc. (Nasdaq: DKNG) announced that it had partnered with what was then the Casino Queen and that the East St. Louis-based property would be rebranded as “DraftKings at Casino Queen.”

The announcement by the digital sports entertainment and gaming company followed a June 16th regulatory filing in which the Boston-based firm said it inked a “multiyear arrangement” with Casino Queen on Wednesday, June 10th. The deal allowed DraftKings to be part of a physical sportsbook as well as offer its online wagering app in the midwestern state where sports betting was legalized in 2019.

***Incorporating the casino’s new sports betting partner into the branding was part of the state’s expanded gaming law requiring licensees to offer mobile sports wagering under the casino’s brand***. FanDuel Group followed suit when in November 2020, the Flutter Entertainment subsidiary announced that it had signed a multi-million dollar deal that would see southwestern Illinois’ Fairmount Park Racetrack rebranded as FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing.

Or maybe not–at least not any more. The more observant of you no doubt thought the same thing as I did while reading the blurb posted above–‘what about PointsBet and BetMGM?’ As best I can understand the Illinois regulatory blather, a revision effective March 4, 2021 allowed sports betting licenses to be issued in the name of a ‘designee’. BetMGM and PointsBet are licensed as ‘Management Services Providers’. DraftKings announced the ‘naming partnership’ for the Casino Queen in July 2020. Flutter Entertainment did something similar for their FanDuel brand, inking a deal to rebrand the Fairmount Park Racetrack as ‘FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing’. Presumably, these deals were already on the books when the aforementioned revision to the Illinois regulations came into effect.

FanDuel and DraftKings might have ancillary reasons for wanting to have their name on a retail gaming property, but the reason that these companies chose these specific properties likely had everything to do with the now invalidated regulatory requirement. The original regulatory requirement ranks among the dumbest I’ve seen so far from a US state, though it still ranks behind Tennessee’s absurd 10% minimum hold requirement. It at least offers a plausible explanation for why DraftKings would want to build such a nice retail sportsbook in a dumpster fire town like East St. Louis, Illinois.

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