DraftKings puts name on Illinois casino to boost sports betting profile


Sports betting operator DraftKings has somehow convinced its Illinois casino partner to rebrand the property with the DraftKings name ahead of its launch of legal wagering.

On Thursday, DraftKings announced that the Casino Queen venue in East St. Louis would henceforth be known as ‘DraftKings at Casino Queen.’ The parties recently announced a partnership that will see DraftKings launch a retail sportsbook at the property, followed by a digital betting product, pending regulatory approval.

DraftKings chief business officer Ezra Kucharz said the rebranding would allow his group to become “a part of the fabric of Illinois’ rich sports culture.” Casino Queen president Terry Downey welcomed DraftKings to “our family,” adding that the rebranding “will enhance the Casino Queen iconic brand while introducing the sports betting industry leader to our state.”

It’s unclear how much cash DraftKings may have forked over to the casino to achieve this branding concession, but it amply demonstrates the lengths to which DraftKings is prepared to go to ensure market access to US states that have approved legal wagering.

DraftKings, which along with archrival FanDuel was recently issued a temporary operating permit from the Illinois Gaming Board for sports betting, was originally thought to have been frozen out of participating in the Illinois betting market under its own brand for at least 18 months following the state’s launch of retail wagering (which happened in March).

It remains unclear how Illinois regulators might choose to view this crafty workaround to the branding restrictions of the state’s betting legislation. To date, only one Illinois-approved betting outfit has launched online wagering, although that dam appears set to burst any day now.

Investors appear initially underwhelmed by the news, as DraftKings’ share price is currently down 2% from Wednesday’s close. The company is set to release its Q2 2020 financial results on August 14, and CEO Jason Robins can expect lots of questions regarding the deal on the ensuing analyst call.