High profile global betting operator Kindred is set to gain a foothold in the new Illinois betting market, thanks to a big deal with a major US player.
Kindred will launch its Unibet sports betting platform in the state thanks to a new deal with Penn National, that will give it access to one of the biggest sports markets in the US. The deal involves Kindred seeking approval for a license to offer sports betting in the state, via the Argosy Casino Alton, which is owned by Penn National.
And Illinois isn’t the only state where Kindred is hoping to make a splash. Their deal with Penn also includes market access for Ohio, where sports betting is expected to launch before the end of the year. That arrangement will work through the Hollywood Casino, owned by Penn National. Both agreements are for ten years and will cover both online casino and sports betting, although, in the case of Ohio, the precise details of the arrangement will depend on regulatory developments.
Kindred has been one of the most successful operators to enter the fast-growing US betting market. Through their Unibet brand, they are currently operating in three US states, with their most recent market launch coming in Indiana.
The Unibet sportsbook debuted in New Jersey in September 2019 and subsequently launched in neighboring Pennsylvania last November, and according to figures released in the summer, both operations are performing strongly. The data shows that Unibet’s gross revenue in the two states hit $7.7 million in Q2 this year, a rise of 131% on the figure recorded for Q1.
The success of Unibet hasn’t just been through sports betting. The company managed to earn a solid 5% share of the Pennsylvania online casino revenue during July. But sports betting remains the focus in Illinois and Ohio, with both states representing a significant opportunity, according to Kindred US Senior Vice President, Manuel Stan:
“Extending our footprint in the US by establishing our brand in two key states like Illinois and Ohio is very exciting for us. We continue our journey in what we believe will become the largest gambling market in the world.”
While sports betting is already live in Illinois, Ohio is a little further back down the track, but hopes are high that the state will be able to join the sports betting revolution before the year is out.
The state currently has two sports betting bills under consideration. SB111 was introduced by the state Senate, while HB194 is the House bill. The Senate is due to meet on three occasions before the end of October, although the House won’t be back in session until November 10, and according to reports, the focus of both Houses will be on HB194.
Sports betting bills have been under discussion in Ohio since 2018, but it has taken many months for them to emerge from Committee, and there remain some significant issues to resolve, including the question of oversight of the sports betting industry. HB194 proposes giving control to the Ohio Lottery Commission, while SB111 calls for the Ohio Casino Control Commission to be the regulator for the new sector. With Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all operating growing sports betting markets, the pressure is on Ohio legislators to make progress before the year’s end.
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