Prospect Heights sportsbook open in time for March Madness
Days before the March Madness college basketball tournament is set to tip off, bettors now have a new brick-and-mortar sportsbook in the Northwest suburbs to make their wagers.
Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer placed the ceremonial first bet Tuesday morning at what's being branded the PointsBet Sportsbook at Club Hawthorne.
The retail wagering location inside Player's Pub & Grill at River Road and Milwaukee Avenue is a partnership between global sportsbook operator PointsBet and Hawthorne Race Course, which already has an off-track betting parlor there for wagering on horse races.
Helmer placed a $130 bet at +200 on favorite Gonzaga to win the national championship, in honor of the 130th anniversary of Hawthorne in Stickney/Cicero. The mayor says he'll donate any winnings to a local charity.
Patrons can make cash wagers on pro and college sports and horse races on self-service kiosks or with a betting concierge. They can also make cash deposits and withdrawals for their mobile PointsBet wagering accounts.
The newly remodeled venue also features 100 TVs, a renovated restaurant with 100-foot wraparound bar, two all-weather outdoor patios and a beer garden.
Hawthorne and PointsBet opened their first brick-and-mortar sportsbook in September at the racetrack in Stickney, as part of an ongoing $400 million racino redevelopment that will combine live horse racing with slots and table games. A second retail sportsbook opened at Hawthorne's OTB in Crestwood in January, with plans for one more at the track's Oakbrook Terrace OTB.
It was all authorized under the massive 2019 Illinois gambling expansion law. Hawthorne operates 10 OTBs statewide -- its farthest one north is Prospect Heights -- and the law allowed up to three of a track's existing OTBs to begin offering bets on sports.
The new sportsbook is in the backyard of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which was the first in the state to open a retail sportsbook a year ago. And while casino owner Churchill Downs Inc. plans to add onto its property -- its $87 million expansion project was approved by Des Plaines aldermen Monday night -- it is preparing to shut down Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights at the end of the season in September.
Churchill decided in 2019 not to pursue slots and table games at Arlington, instead focusing on its 61% investment in Rivers -- the state's most lucrative casino.