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For Illinois bettors, it seems like all good things must end. In this case, it might be a lose-lose decision as Governor Pritzker has decided to end his temporary edict that registration for new sports betting customers can be made online.
In doing so, Gov. Pritzker has decided not to renew Executive Order 2020-41 among his series of legislative renewals last Friday. By executing that order, the controversial in-person requirement for any bettor opting to wager online in Illinois went back into effect as of Sunday, April 4.
Before the executive order signed in August 2020, residents of Illinois were legally required to register in person at any casino within the state. Reacting to COVID-19, online requirements were eased, allowing bettors to register online. These actions by the governor were met with widespread enthusiasm, allowing easier access and safety for all under the pandemic conditions.
While not acknowledging any admission toward COVID-19 ending or its effects lessening, according to the governor’s office “it’s a precaution that is no longer needed”. Meaning the state government believes in its original intention to have all residents register in-state casino locations.
The purpose of the restrictive order was to boost the state’s retail onsite casino industry. However, with the ten Illinois casinos closed a long portion of time due to COVID-19 starting back in June, Pritzker signed an executive order allowing customers to sign-up from their phones or home computers.
Financial analysts observing the action are not endorsing the decision, saying “it puts the brakes” on a steadily growing Illinois sports wagering industry that has obtained close to $1.6 billion in wagering handle. And also, has generated almost $28 million in tax revenue for the state since coinciding with the beginning of the coronavirus shut down in March 2020.
In keeping with the national trend, like most US states Illinois online wagering has averaged 95% of the handle over the past two months. Illinois is currently in phase four of vaccination rates and in tandem with casinos opening around the country is reopening with increased safety guidelines in place and to be enforced. Therefore, the governor’s office feels justified getting back to their original marketing plan and upholding all legal requirements of the bill.
Still, it is a peculiar decision being that Illinois casinos are operating at only half capacity. Also, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, only 18% of the state’s residents have been fully immunized.
Legislators have voiced their displeasure as well. State Rep. Mike Zalewski D-Riverside, who initiated sports wagering legislation for Illinois suggested lawmakers should review this issue and said:
It’s an immediate roadblock for the major online-only companies. Chicagoans will have to drive all the way to the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria to register with FanDuel, or even farther to the Casino Queen in East St. Louis to register with DraftKings Sportsbook.
A FanDuel bettor can register at Casino Queen, a DraftKings customer at Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Illinois. Barstool Sportsbook, the state’s newest entry is linked to Hollywood Casino in Aurora, outside of Chicago with subsequent tie-ins to Hollywood in Joliet and the Argosy Casino in Alton.
Major sportsbook operators Caesars Sportsbook, PointsBet, and BetRivers are all represented in Illinois and have locations in Chicago. Bettors can find Caesars at Grand Victoria in Elgin. PointsBet is connected to Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney plus off-track sites in Crestwood and Prospect Heights. BetRivers can be found in suburban Des Plaines.
Although the order is currently in effect for all bettors to register in-person for new accounts in Illinois, it is possible that pressure from the sportsbook operators and the sports bettors along with state legislators make seek another appeal.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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