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Frank Ignatius

Frank Ignatius

In an industry dominated by global “Goliaths”, local entrepreneur and businessman Frank Ignatius is entering the burgeoning sports betting sector as a “David” after his start-up company, USA Sports Gaming LLC, inked an agreement to launch its BetIndiana mobile sportsbook in partnership with Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, the owner and operator of Majestic Star Casinos in Gary.

Made possible through legislation last month which permitted mobile, online sports betting in Indiana, BetIndiana will open for business pending Indiana Gaming Commission approval.

“This is the perfect partnership for us,” said Ignatius, the company’s president and founder. “Like BetIndiana, Spectacle Entertainment is an independent operator in the gaming industry, born in the Midwest and connected to our local markets. We see great synergy here and we’re confident we will provide bettors in Indiana with a book unlike any other in the state.”

Although Majestic Star’s mobile sports betting book will not be the typical “brick and mortar” or retail venue, it will include a BetIndiana sports lounge where fans can watch the games and make wagers from their personal mobile devices in comfort throughout the year.

Participants will also have access to news and information on sports and sports wagering at BetIndianaNews.com, the companion content site of the mobile sportsbook.

“The fastest growing segment of sports betting is ‘live betting’ or ‘in-play betting,” Ignatius said. “In Europe it is wildly popular. We will have the opportunity to post real-time odds options during a game and give bettors a 30 to 60 second window to make a decision to bet or not. The element of speed makes it a huge advantage. Certainly, this is not practical in a conventional sports book where you have to stand in line to make a bet.”

Ignatius launched his company with the intention of doing business in Illinois, which has approved sports betting but has yet to launch it.

“In the meantime, I started to explore opportunities ‘next door’ (Indiana) and connected with the Majestic Star,” he said.

The partnership is a long-term deal with BetIndiana which will continue to be a mobile sportsbook for Spectacle Entertainment’s planned future land-based casino adjacent to the Borman Expressway in Gary.

“Our company is one of only a few start-ups of its kind born in America,” Ignatius said. “Most of the others have European roots. Because of that, we are truly ‘Indiana’s Home Town Sports Book’ with Midwest DNA in our makeup. We are really proud of that.”

Ignatius said that 85 percent of sports betting in New Jersey is via mobile betting. He views that as the public’s endorsement of this form of wagering in light of the fact that mobile applications are common in all aspects of our daily lives.

“I look forward to competing in Indiana with the expectation that our product is going to be extremely popular,” Ignatius continued. “It revolves around a combination of the public’s interest in sports, in gambling, and in mobile applications. It is my opinion that the sky’s the limit.

“For one thing, novice bettors are going to naturally gravitate to it because of their familiarity with their using their devices and accessing mobile apps. Women are another fast- moving demographic which will be attracted by mobile betting.”

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Ignatius brings a creative and fresh approach to sports betting. He rejected the business model that the sports betting industry existed for the casinos and that the goal was to get people in the door.

“I never thought we were in business to get people in the door,” Ignatius said. “My desire is to build this mobile sports betting product and make it as competitive as any in the market.”

Ignatius goes into the market with a mind open to new ideas and the opportunities that exist to grow the sports betting market.

“I know that millennials tend to be problem solvers,” he said. “The skill and knowledge required to handicap a horse race may open a door for that sport to experience a revival. An option for making cross-sports parlays may be something to explore.”

Ignatius’ future options include not only expansion in Indiana and Illinois, but also several other markets around the country as more states legalize sports betting.

BONUS ROUND-UP

AMERISTAR: In honor of Veterans’ Day on Monday, Nov. 11, all members of the military with a valid military ID will receive a complimentary lunch buffet in Heritage Buffet from11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

FOUR WINDS: The W Club players card reserved exclusively for all active and retired U.S. military veterans at all Four Winds Casino destinations pays a big dividend on Veterans Day (Monday, Nov. 11) when members will receive a 50 percent discount at The Buffet or a 25 percent discount at Timbers Fast Food & Deli, Hard Rock Café, or Kankakee Grille. The 50 percent discount is also available on Memorial Day and Patriot’s Day. All other days throughout the year, members receive 10 percent off at all retail outlets and 20 percent off at all dining venues. “This reward program for the U.S. Military is our way of saying thank you to those who have served this country,” said Frank Freedman, chief operating officer at Four Winds Casinos. For complete details and to join the Four Winds Veterans Card program, veterans and active duty U.S. military members are invited to visit the W Club promotions booth at any Four Winds destination. Participants must be 21 years of age or older.

HARRAH’S JOLIET: Be a part of the November Jackpot Bonus Drawings and be eligible to win a share of $5,000 in cash. Now through 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 29, guests will receive one entry for every taxable jackpot ($1,200 or more) hit with their Caesars Rewards player’s club card properly inserted in the machine. All entries must be placed in the drum by 6:55 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29, for that evening’s 7 p.m. drawing. There will be five winners drawn. Please visit the Caesars Rewards player’s club center for complete information.

HOLLYWOOD JOLIET: Saturdays in November are your opportunity to win a share of $50,000 in cash in the “Cornucopia of Cash” drawings. Simply swipe your Mychoice player’s club card at a kiosk starting at 3 p.m. on the days of the promotion to activate your entries. Five winners will be called every hour from 4 to 9 p.m. Each winner will select a mystery prize from the game board. The prizes range from $50 and $1,000 cash. Swipe your card at the promotional kiosks each day to claim your free bonus entries. Earn additional entries playing slots and table games. Swipe on Tuesdays in November and receive a 2-times entry multiplier for that day.

MAJESTIC STAR: The $150,000 Land Rover promotion continues Friday (Nov. 8) and the next two Fridays this month in advance of the grand finale drawing on Saturday, Nov. 30. On Fridays, the names of two guests are drawn every half-hour from 1 to 9 p.m. to select a Land Rover Discovery from the prize board valued at up to $200 in Promo Cash. At the 9 p.m. drawing, two guests will be chosen to receive $2,500 in Promo Cash and a key to the grand finale. On Saturday, Nov. 30, the names of two guests will be drawn every hour from 5 to 8 p.m. to receive a key. At 9 p.m. all grand finale key holders will have a chance to win the 2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport SE SUV or $1,000 in Promo Cash. Please visit the Majestic Rewards players club center for complete information.

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Opinions are solely those of the writer. Reach him at jgbrokopp1@gmail.com.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.