Illinois Governor Order Allows Mobile Betting Registration While Casinos Closed
Posted on: June 4, 2020, 10:17h.
Last updated on: June 5, 2020, 10:22h.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an order late Thursday that will allow people to remotely register for mobile sports betting accounts as long as the COVID-19 crisis keeps the state’s casinos closed.
When Illinois passed sports betting last year, the law established an 18-month window requiring customers to set up mobile accounts at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, which can be located at casinos, racetracks, and select sports stadiums. That could mean someone who wants to use a particular application would have to drive hundreds of miles round-trip if they wanted to wager on it.
The state law was passed around the same time as similar laws in Indiana and Iowa. However, while those states were able to launch sports betting in late summer last year, delays kept the Land of Lincoln from joining until earlier this year.
It seemed, though, as if the early March launch date would work for the state, as it coincided with the NCAA Tournament, the most popular sports betting event in the United States. Unfortunately, Illinois first sportsbook opened on March 9, just two days before the COVID-19 crisis postponed or canceled all sporting events, including the NCAA Tournament. By the end of that week, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) ordered all casinos to close by March 16.
They remain closed.
In-person registration for mobile sports betting has been considered as an impediment to growing the market by some gaming analysts. That’s because it creates an unnecessary obstacle for customers. It’s also considered a way of limiting competition.
Registration requirements for mobile sports betting vary by state. Such states as New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia do not require in-person registration. Neighboring Iowa has a provision similar to Illinois, but its 18-month period ends at the end of this year. Nevada, on the other hand, has always required it for mobile accounts, and during the COVID-19 emergency, some sportsbooks set up drive-through services for bettors to create accounts.
About the Order
In the order, Pritzker notes the casino closures, and added that the gaming properties will only reopen “when safe to do so.” That led him to invoke the powers granted to him to make a change in the sports betting law while the COVID-19 emergency remains in effect in Illinois.
During the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations, the provisions in the Sports Wagering Act… requiring in-person creation of a sports wagering account at a facility authorized pursuant to the Act in order to participate in sports wagering offered over the internet or through a mobile application, are suspended,” the order reads.
As for now, Pritzker’s order would be very limited in scope. The only sportsbook that opened before the COVID-19 crisis hit was the BetRivers.com Sportsbook at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, a Chicago suburb near O’Hare International Airport. The Argosy Casino in Alton, near St. Louis, was set to open on March 16.
On the IGB Web site, only two management services providers – Rush Street Interactive, which operates Bet Rivers, and Penn Sports Interactive, which will operate the Argosy sportsbook – have temporary operating permits. Four other providers or sportsbooks, including PointsBet, Crown IL Gaming, FanDuel, and American Wagering, are listed as applicants awaiting approval for a temporary permit.
Seven casino ownership groups currently have their temporary operating permits as well. Three racetracks are listed as applicants.
No sports arenas have applied for a license yet.
The Illinois law allows for standalone mobile operators, but those licensees would have to wait 18 months before they could begin to take bets.
Gaming Board Meets Next Week
Pritzker’s order comes at an interesting time. Casinos in Illinois may still be closed, but more sports leagues and organizations have resumed play, which has generated more traffic for sportsbooks and sports betting applications.
It also comes just days before the IGB is set to meet for the first time since January, although no agenda has been posted yet. The meeting, which will be virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be livestreamed for public viewing.
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