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Regardless of whether they won or lost, all Illinois sports bettors had something to cheer about late last week. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker will extend the emergency declaration that allows for remote registration for online betting apps within the state.
The executive order was set to expire on Saturday, September 19th, which would have meant that bettors looking to sign up for one of the sports wagering apps in Illinois would have had to complete their registration at one of the app’s partner casino in the state. As an example, for some, this would have meant a difficult ride to East St. Louis, which is normally inconvenient for most people, especially those in and around the Chicago metro area.
Though the original announcement of legalized sports wagering in Illinois made for popular headlines, the quite controversial rules accompanying the state’s jurisdiction were not.
Before wagering was set to go online, Governor Pritzker had mandated that all Illinois residents had to travel to an onsite state wagering location to register for their online wagering account. That was met with disdain because of the large number of people in the state living far outside sportsbook/wagering locations.
The keywords here were incentive and motivation. Especially in a market that had (and still has) access to a large number of offshore wagering sportsbooks. Sports wagering websites where online signups and money transfers have been available for over twenty years. Though the obvious safety and security of legalized US online wagering would now be present, it was puzzling why Governor Pritzker was not allowing state residents the convenient privilege bettors were receiving in other US states.
The turnaround began in March when Illinois started operations a week before the coronavirus pandemic shut down operations. Subsequently, Pritzker signed an executive order allowing people to register for mobile betting accounts online.
Online registration was live, and momentum was building until mid-July when Pritzker decided to change course and reverse his order, forcing bettors to go back to a sportsbook and signup in-person. There was an immediate backlash on the decision. The repeal did not last long as Governor Pritzker relented and changed policy to offer mobile registration.
However, the executive order he reversed again was limited and was only signed through September 19th. This newest order extends the mandate until October 17th, 2020.
Many stand to win from this obvious common-sense judgment. Sports bettors plus the state receiving additional tax dollars during sports wagering’s biggest season.
Others applauding the judgment include DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel. DraftKings has a new sportsbook in Alton, Illinois, which is about four and a half hours from the Chicago area. Also, FanDuel, who has a location in Peoria, approximately two hours south of Chicago.
But perhaps rising sportsbook company PointsBet has the most to gain, adopting Illinois as one of their big initial growth markets. PointsBet has been making some noise recently, creating popular promotions for wagering on the home team Chicago Bears to attract new signups.
Illinois with a lot of growth potential is only beginning to see results during a truly short time span. Thus far they have had over 250,000 people signups for sports betting accounts online. Last week, the state reported July betting numbers, where they accounted for $62 million for the month. Impressive, considering there was limited major US sports action.
The next month’s financial reports in August and September will easily eclipse July’s numbers with all four major sports in action including the peak of the NHL Stanley Cup and NBA Playoffs. Not assuming this, but here is hoping new mobile and online registration for sports wagering will soon be a “permanent” Governor Pritzker order for all Illinois residents to enjoy.
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.
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