Hawthorne Race Course will have the first non-casino, off-track betting site with a sportsbook in Illinois starting Wednesday when its newly remodeled Club Hawthorne opens in Crestwood with PointsBet as its operator.
Hawthorne is one of two horse tracks licensed for sports betting in Illinois, along with Fairmount Park, and it currently has under construction a racino that is targeted for a December opening. The Crestwood site is one of three OTB locations where Hawthorne is allowed to conduct sports wagering as part of the Sports Wagering Act that Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law in June 2019.
Hawthorne Race Course, located in the Chicago suburb of Stickney, opened for retail sports betting at the end of September. It is the closest retail sports betting venue to downtown Chicago, and the OTB site in Crestwood is approximately 15 miles south of the track. Hawthorne will eventually have sports betting available at OTB sites in Prospect Heights and Oakbrook Terrace.
“Hawthorne is the only gaming company in the Chicagoland area that is able to open sportsbooks at off-track and non-casino locations, so this is an opportunity on which we focused a lot of energy and investment,” said Tim Carey, president and CEO of Hawthorne Race Course, in a joint statement with PointsBet. “We completely remodeled the space to create the best sports viewing and sports betting destination in the State.”
The Illinois Gaming Board is expected to release the state’s November’s sports betting numbers at its meeting Wednesday prior to Crestwood’s noon opening, but PointsBet has already shown itself to be a player on the Illinois scene. The Australian-based sportsbook generated an online handle just shy of $60.3 million in its first full month of operation in October, accounting for nearly 15% of the $434.6 million bet in the state, while the track accepted slightly less than $528,000 in wagers.
“As sports fans we all love the game, love the action, but we also love experiencing it with other fans,” said Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA. “The unique opportunity to open a new style of standalone sportsbooks with Hawthorne required us to develop something that would match the best-in-class customer experience that PointsBet provides on our mobile platform. This isn’t just the best sportsbook in Chicago, it’s the best sports bar too.”
Amenities aplenty, but COVID restrictions apply
Club Hawthorne features a 163-inch Hero LED Video Wall and two dozen 75-inch TV screens throughout the viewing area, accompanied by a state-of-the-art sound system. There are leather couches, captain’s chairs and highboy tables for patrons, with capacity available for up to 500 people post-COVID.
For betting purposes, there are six self-serve kiosks and five betting clerk stations — all separated by plexiglass with proper social distancing protocols in place. There will also be sweepstakes and retail-only betting promotions with Wednesday’s opening.
Club Hawthorne is located in Region 10 for Illinois’ COVID-19 mitigation purposes, which is currently in Tier 1. That limits capacity to 25% and includes mask protocols. Seating will be available for the opening on a first-come, first-serve basis, and patrons will also have the option of using bet-and-go services for cash wagering.