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Legal sports betting in St. Louis area quietly launches as coronavirus upends sports seasons

Legal sports betting in St. Louis area quietly launches as coronavirus upends sports seasons

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Sports betting is coming to the Argosy Casino in Alton

Bill Parave, a retail engineer with Kambi, a sports betting experience company, looks at the Argosy Casino computers to address any waging and integrity concerns of the entire sports betting network on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the Argosy Casino in Alton, Illinois. Behind Parave are screens showing sporting events going on around the country and their betting lines. The Argosy Casino is preparing to offer sports betting to it's customers. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

ALTON — The Argosy Casino Alton had been planning a grand opening for the St. Louis region's first sportsbook on Monday, with St. Louis Cardinals legend Ozzie Smith scheduled to be on hand to make a wager.

But the event, scheduled to preface the now-cancelled NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, was postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. And so the Argosy quietly opened on Thursday, instead — the area's first legal sports betting operation. 

Following a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed for the expansion of sports betting beyond Nevada, Illinois passed gambling expansion legislation last year that included sports wagering. Illinois regulators issued Argosy Alton, owned by national casino chain Penn National Gaming, a license on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Argosy said the casino was still open and there were still some sports to bet on: darts, boxing and mixed martial arts, among others. 

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