At upcoming Waukegan casino

Circa to bring new sportsbook, mobile betting to Illinois via new Full House partnership

Circa Sports founder and CEO Derek Stevens.
2022-05-10
United States
Reading time 3:59 min

Las Vegas-based sportsbook operator Circa Sports is set to enter the Illinois sports gaming market, the company announced on Monday. The business will be expanding its operations to this new market through a partnership with casino developer and operator Full House Resorts.

Full House is set to open American Place, a destination entertainment casino currently under construction in Waukegan, Lake County. This collaboration will expand Circa Sports’ footprint -which is already operational in Nevada, Iowa and Colorado- to a fourth state.

“We are thrilled to introduce our industry-leading sports betting and hospitality experience to Illinois,” said Circa Sports founder and CEO Derek Stevens. “We have developed incredible relationships with Midwest bettors at our Las Vegas casinos, so to bring our product to the great state of Illinois is a major milestone for us.”

The initial arrival of Circa Sports in Illinois will be in The Temporary by American Place, a temporary casino that Full House Resorts will operate while constructing the permanent American Place venue. Additionally, the sportsbook will also be launching its mobile app in the state.

Resulting from the agreement between the two parties, The Temporary will include a dedicated wagering area with betting kiosks, physical ticket windows, and digital boards with real-time odds. Bettors may also catch sports action on 36 televisions, ranging from 60” to 80” screens.

By using the mobile Circa Sports app, Illinois bettors will be able to register, fund and wager on sports from anywhere in the state. And once finalized, the permanent American Place casino will feature “a best-in-class retail sportsbook to match the quality and scale” of the development.

“We promised Illinois a premium gaming and entertainment facility, and that includes a first-class sportsbook experience,” said Alex Stolyar, Chief Development Officer of Full House Resorts. “We witnessed how Derek and his team have revolutionized the sports betting and viewing experience at Circa and knew that they would be the right partner for American Place.”

Under terms of the new agreement, disclosed by Las Vegas Review-Journal, Full House Resorts is paying a $5 million access fee that will be amortized over the initial eight-year contract with Circa, starting when the sportsbook goes live.


Rendering for Waukegan's American Place casino

The deal puts Circa in the American Place for eight years with two four-year options at the discretion of Circa. It is a revenue-sharing agreement with Full House assured of a minimum of $5 million annually, Review-Journal further reported.

“American Place has been an excellent partner for the launch of our temporary sportsbook,” Stevens added. “This is our first time introducing a physical book to a new state, and we are thrilled to work with Full House to bring it to life.”

The new book and upcoming launch of mobile wagering in Illinois marks another big step in Circa’s history since its launch three years ago. The brand first made its debut at Stevens’ Golden Gate Hotel & Casino and is now available in five locations across Southern Nevada.

These sites include what is Circa’s flagship location at Circa Resort & Casino, in downton Las Vegas. Its three-story, stadium-style sportsbook is described as the biggest in not only Las Vegas but the world, and is a prime aspect of the resort, with seating for 1,000 people.


Circa Resort & Casino's sportsbook

“For anyone who has seen that beautiful sportsbook at Circa in downtown Las Vegas, I’m looking forward to having the best sportsbook in the Midwest,” Dan Lee, Full House’s CEO, told investors on Monday. “Our goal is for people to walk into our sportsbook and say ‘Wow.’”

Circa has also extended its sports offerings to other states: Colorado and Iowa. “Circa Sports has become known for a leadership team consisting of the industry’s top oddsmakers,” a press release claims, with a menu “featuring some of the best odds in the country.”

The announcement also provides more details about Full Resort’s vision for the upcoming American Place venue, a premium gaming and entertainment destination within Waukegan’s Fountain Square district unveiled after the company won a license for the project last December.

The location is one of six granted a casino license through a gaming expansion bill signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker. Circa’s planned sportsbook at the casino will add to an existing total of seven brick-and-mortar books already operational in Illinois gaming venues.

In addition to Circa’s sportsbook, the permanent casino facility -which is set to cost about $400 million- will include approximately 1,600 slot machines, 100 table games, an exclusive 20-villa hotel, a 1,500-seat live entertainment venue, and a wide variety of bars and restaurants.

In March, Full House Resorts and general contractor for the casino Turner Construction Company held a vendor outreach event aimed at minority- and women-owned businesses for the development of both the temporary and permanent American Place casino in Waukegan.

Illinois officials had previously stated they wanted to see part of the work go to such businesses. Stolyar had also said this intention was part of the company’s philosophy, one which the business was seeking to bring to this upcoming venue, Full House’s first in the state.

Previous reports indicated the company was targeting an opening by fall for The Temporary by American Place, and the business has already secured unanimous approval from the Waukegan City Council for the site plan for the provisional casino.

The temporary venue will utilize a 75,000-square-foot tent-like structure described in a Council meeting as more similar to a warehouse than a casino. It will include about 1,000 slots, 50 table games, a fine-dining restaurant, two additional restaurants, and a center bar.

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