Illinois sports bettors will seemingly have to complete mobile sportsbook signups in-person beginning Sunday.
A 2020 executive order signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that allowed mobile signups is set to expire Saturday night. The digital sportsbook remote sign-up authorization was one of several dozen such orders approved by the governor, but it was not listed on a series of renewed orders posted to the state legislative information services website Friday afternoon.
An Illinois sportsbook operator confirmed with The Action Network that the order would expire at midnight April 3. If Pritzker issues no further executive orders, Illinois law would require in-person registration until 2022.
All eligible bettors that had previously completed online sportsbook registration remotely can continue to wager without having to go to a retail sportsbook. However, all new customers or those not registered at one of Illinois’ legal sportsbooks must now physically complete sign-up in person.
In a statement provided by DraftKings to The Action Network’s Darren Rovell, the sportsbook expressed concerns about the expiration of the order.
“DraftKings believes that creating artificial barriers for customers such as requiring in-person registration for mobile sports wagering deters bettors from moving to the legal market and ultimately hinders revenue generation for the state. Mobile registration has been an important factor in the success of Illinois sports wagering, and we hope the legislature will take action to allow for customers to register their mobile sports wagering accounts remotely in the future.”
Illinois opened its first retail sportsbook in March 2020, days before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered nearly every American casino. The first online sportsbook launched in June 2020.
Illinois’ 2019 sports betting law required in-person registration for online sportsbooks, but in June 2020 Pritzker signed a one-month executive order in May that permitted remote registration without having to visit one of the shuttered casinos. The executive order briefly lapsed after the first month, but beginning in July 2020, Pritzker signed a series of monthly extensions that had extended through the end of March 2021.
Most Illinois gaming stakeholders had expected the extensions to continue unabated. At the time of this post’s publication, it was unclear why Pritzker had not extended the order.
State legislators have not passed a permanent remote registration bill, which wasn’t a legislative priority with Pritzker’s executive orders in effect. As long as the executive orders aren’t reinstated, it will take an act of the legislature to reinstate mobile sign-up before the existing in-person requirement sunsets next year.
Bad News for Illinois Sports Bettors
The in-person sign-up requirement is a blow to Illinois sports bettors. Buoyed by statewide, mobile registration, Illinois had grown to one of the nation’s highest-grossing legal sports betting markets after less than a year of online wagering.
Remote registration is set to expire hours after Saturday’s semifinals of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, perennially one of the nation’s most wagered-up upon events. If the executive order lapses, Illinois bettors would not be able to register remotely ahead of the championship game Monday.
Sportsbook operators and the industry stakeholders have largely decried such in-person requirements, which mandate players physically complete mobile betting registration at a casino or gaming facility. Neighboring Iowa saw a massive jump in new sportsbook participation and revenue after its in-person registration mandate expired Jan. 1 of this year.
This is especially brutal in Illinois, whose two largest metro areas are several hours apart. A Chicago-area resident, for example, could sign up for the BetRivers sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, but would find it difficult to sign up for the DraftKings sportsbook at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.
The threat of a lapsed mobile registration exemption partially explains why only six sportsbooks have launched in Illinois despite its market potential. That fear is set to become a reality in the coming days.
This logistically prohibitive requirement, sports betting advocates say, only shifts would-be legal players back to offshore sites or unlicensed bookmakers, taking away customers and tax revenues from legal, regulated sportsbooks.
Sports Betting Options
Bettors not yet registered with an online sportsbook will have to travel to their retail partner to place a mobile bet beginning Sunday.
- BetRivers – Rivers Casino (Des Plaines)
- DraftKings – DraftKings at Casino Queen (East St. Louis)
- FanDuel – Fairmount Park Racetrack (Collinsville)
- William Hill – Grand Victoria (Elgin)
- PointsBet – Hawthorne Race Course (Stickney)
- Barstool Sportsbook – Hollywood Casino Joliet
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