Hawthorne Race Course in southwest suburban Stickney opened its doors Wednesday to a brand new sportsbook, ushering in a new era for the iconic venue.
“We really view this as an opportunity,” CEO and President Tim Carey said. “We view this as a privilege, and we will certainly take that to heart.”
The racetrack received approval in July from the Illinois Gaming Board to develop its sports betting operation, and Hawthorne partnered up with PointsBet to make that vision a reality.
“Thank you so much for believing in us,” Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA, said in a statement. “This is just a sample of what’s to come.”
With sports betting now legal in the state of Illinois, many companies are setting up sportsbooks across the state, and officials at Hawthorne are hoping that their book can draw in a slew of new customers in the suburbs of the city.
“All signs point to Illinois being on track to be one of the more productive legal sports betting markets in the U.S.,” betting expert Chris Grove said.
Betting was first introduced to the state back in March, when Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened its first sportsbook.
Experts say Rivers has been handling most of the sports betting in the state, but officials at Hawthorne believe that their sportsbook will create more competition in the space.
“I don’t think you are going to see a professional sports team or an arena or anything else that’s sports-related in the state not have some sort of tie to a sportsbook,” Grove said.
That belief has already been bolstered by news this week that the Chicago Bears have partnered with PointsBet as the team’s first sports betting partner.
The sportsbook at Hawthorne Race Course is the closest sports book to downtown Chicago, according to a press release.