Illinois Gov. Pritzker Declines to Renew Mobile Sports Betting Registration Order

Posted on: July 26, 2020, 04:31h. 

Last updated on: July 27, 2020, 01:29h.

Illinois sports betting took another dramatic twist this weekend when it was revealed that Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) did not extend the executive order waiving the state’s in-person registration requirements for mobile sports betting.

Illinois sports betting
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, seen here in April touring an alternate COVID-19 hospital site in Chicago, chose not to extend an order that waives in-person registration for bettors who want to establish mobile accounts. (Image: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune via AP)

It means that starting Monday, if you want to sign up for a sports betting account in the Land of Lincoln, then you’ll need to head to the casino or racetrack associated with the account.

On Friday, Pritzker posted a new order that extended several of his previous ones, with one of the exceptions being the sports betting exemption he initially issued on June 4. On June 26, when he extended the state of emergency, he extended the registration order for a 30-day period that ends Sunday.

Pritzker cited the fact that casinos were closed as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as his rationale for lifting the in-person registration requirement. Those casinos, which shut down in mid-March, resumed operations with limits on capacity on July 1.

The new order is just the latest in a saga that’s seen sports gaming technology company DraftKings reach a deal with the Casino Queen 12 days after Pritzker’s first order. Then, after Rush Street Gaming representatives raised issues with the proposed sportsbook’s branding, the East St. Louis casino took the step of rebranding itself to include the DraftKings name.

The move also affects FanDuel, the main online sports betting rival to DraftKings. Both companies received their temporary sports betting license from the Illinois Gaming Board on July 17. But their gaming partners in the state — FanDuel’s reported partner is Fairmount Park in Collinsville — were still awaiting approval.

A FanDuel representative declined to comment. also reached out to DraftKings for comment on Sunday afternoon.

Betting Commute

Currently, only two sportsbooks are active in Illinois. BetRivers, which is based out of the Rivers Des Plaines casino in the Chicago suburbs, and the Argosy Casino in Alton, in the south of the state. Only BetRivers has a mobile app active, although DraftKings has posted tweets urging people to preregister as it awaits approval.

The in-person registration requirement will make it challenging for many Illinois residents to sign up for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Argosy’s online applications. All three will have retail locations in the St. Louis suburbs. While that is a strong sports market with more than 2 million people, it pales in size to the Chicago market of about 10 million.

For Chicago area residents to be able to use DraftKings, FanDuel, or Argosy’s app, which is slated to be Barstool Sportsbook, they would first need to drive about 300 miles to those venues and establish an account.

Unlike Iowa — which sunset its in-person registration window at 18 months — the requirement in Illinois remains in effect until the state until it awards a $20 million gaming license to an online-only sports betting operator. Because the Illinois Gaming Board issued master licenses last month, it started an 18-month countdown to when the online licenses would be available. Only until one of those licenses has been awarded will the in-person registration requirement be lifted in the state.

That provision of the 2019 expanded gaming law that legalized sports betting was designed to serve as a “penalty box” for DraftKings and FanDuel after they were deemed to have operated fantasy sports contests illegally in the state. The purpose of the measure was to make them wait to launch in Illinois while casino sportsbooks got a head start, but FanDuel and DraftKings opted to avoid the wait and partner with an established gaming company in the state.

BetRivers, PointsBet, Indiana Likely to Benefit

Besides BetRivers, another likely winner from Pritzker’s decision is PointsBet. The Australian-based sportsbook has an agreement in place with Chicago-area racetrack Hawthorne Park to offer retail and mobile sports betting. It received temporary approval from the Illinois Gaming Board on July 14, days before FanDuel and DraftKings. But Hawthorne is still awaiting its final approval from the IGB.

Another winner is likely Indiana, where DraftKings and FanDuel are currently available and there is no in-person registration requirement. Rather than making the 300-mile trek once, Chicago-area FanDuel and DraftKings customers may opt to just make the short drive over to northwest Indiana and continue using the apps they’ve been using for nearly a year.

The Illinois Gaming Board is scheduled to meet on Thursday. The agenda for that meeting should be available on Tuesday.

NOTE (7/26; 10:30 pm) – This story was edited to clarify and correct the potentially indefinite timeframe for in-person registration for sports betting in Illinois.