Rivers Casino with 62% Ownership by Churchill Downs Announces “Official Casino of the Chicago Bears” Partnership

Rivers Casino Des Plaines (Google Street view captured August 2019 ©2021 Google)
Rivers Casino Des Plaines (Google Street view captured August 2019 ©2021 Google).

The Chicago Bears, Rush Street Interactive, Inc. a Chicago-based gaming company that operates BetRivers.com, and Rivers Casino, Chicago’s leading casino announced today, Tuesday, June 22, 2021 that the businesses have agreed to a multi-year exclusive partnership. The agreement is the Bears’ first multi-year exclusive deal in the Sportsbook and Casino categories and makes BetRivers the Bears’ Official Sportsbook Partner and Rivers Casino the Bears’ Official Casino Partner.

Rivers Casino Des Plaines is jointly owned by Rush Street Gaming and Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) (Nasdaq: CHDN). Churchill Downs Inc., which owned the nearby Arlington Park racetrack, purchased a 62 percent stake in the casino from Neil Bluhm and his partners for $407 million in 2019. Rivers Des Plaines opened in 2011.

Rush Street Gaming was founded in the mid-1990s by Neil Bluhm and Greg Carlin. Rush Street Gaming and its affiliates is headquartered on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois on a city block between Michigan Avenue and Rush Street, and Delaware Place and Walton Place. Rush Street Gaming and its affiliates, have developed and operate successful casinos in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Des Plaines, Illinois (Chicago area) and Schenectady, New York. Rush Street Gaming and its affiliates has become one of the leading casino developers in the United States and operators of online casinos and sports books.

Neil Bluhm owns a minority stake in the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox.

According to Forbes, Forbes #486 Neil Bluhm’s REAL TIME NET WORTH is $5.4 Billion as of June 22, 2021.

By comparison Rams owner, sports mogul, and billionaire real estate developer Forbes #304 Stan Kroenke has a Forbes REAL TIME NET WORTH of $8.2 Billion as of June 22, 2021.

“We are incredibly excited to announce BetRivers and Rivers Casino as our first multi-year exclusive partner in the Sportsbook and Casino categories. We look forward to connecting with our fans in fun and unique ways through these avenues and couldn’t be prouder to be building this relationship with a hometown company.”

— Bears President & CEO Ted Phillips

As part of the partnership, BetRivers and Rivers Casino will receive a mix of prominent in-stadium signage, and digital, social and print assets. Additionally, BetRivers will be the Title Partner of the team’s customized Free to Play Game on the Chicago Bears Official App brought to you by Verizon. BetRivers.com players will see collaborative promotions for exclusive Chicago Bears prizes and experiences while betting on their favorite team.

“As a lifelong Bears fan, I am thrilled to have BetRivers and Rivers Casino partner with our hometown NFL team, the Chicago Bears, as the organization’s only Official Sportsbook and Casino Partner,” said Neil Bluhm, Executive Chairman & Co-Founder of Rush Street Interactive and Rush Street Gaming, and the principal operator of the casinos. “We look forward to expanding our relationship with the Bears and their dedicated fan base, and offering innovative products and promotions as we remain committed to delivering a first-rate customer experience. This partnership also reinforces our commitment to hometown teams in states where we have our online and land-based sportsbooks.”

When the Chicago Bears announced Thursday afternoon, June 17, 2021 that they had submitted a bid to buy the property along with Arlington International Racecourse that Churchill Downs has put up for sale, the immediate “hmmmm” was, “how might this sale benefit Churchill Downs? … there must be some connection … because players know how to play. That’s right, while many plain old working citizens reacted by discussing traffic in Arlington Heights or how football fans might be be walking all over their lawns or doing something else on their lawns, and Chicagoans moaned that they will have to travel to Arlington Heights to watch the Bears, and while Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to act tough with impotent condescension regarding the Bears relevancy after October … the real exciting action was below the tip of the iceberg.

The Chicago Bears did not include an announcement of the deal in the their list of press releases on June 22, 2021, but Rivers Casino did.

The movers and shakers have been silent on any intentions or details toward a Churchill Downs – Chicago Bears connection; and maybe there isn’t a connection. However, intuition alerts and shadowy flags on the horizon are flying now.



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