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Illinois Extends Executive Order For Online Sports Betting Registration

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Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. Pictured: The Illinois State Capitol Building.

Illinois bettors can register for online sportsbooks without signing up in person — at least for another month.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker once again extended his executive order permitting remote signups, meaning eligible bettors in Illinois can deposit and wager from any of the state’s five live online sportsbooks without completing registration in person at their respective brick-and-mortar partners. The latest executive order extension — the fifth this year — lasts until Dec. 12.

Pritzker’s extension comes days after Illinois lawmakers announced they would not return for the legislature’s 2020 fall veto session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaming stakeholders had hoped lawmakers would amend the existing sports betting bill’s registration requirements, which aren’t set to sunset until 2022.

Instead, with no legislative answer in sight, it’s up to Pritzker for a possible sixth extension to determine whether or not Illinoisans can still register remotely come Dec. 13.

In-Person Registration Hurts Illinois Sports Betting

Industry stakeholders (and Illinois bettors) have supported these orders, especially as state officials have recently curtailed casino hours, but they’re still hoping for a more permanent solution instead of the month-by-month orders that threaten the state’s sports betting market if they aren’t renewed.

Increasing positive case results and hospitalizations could lead to further limits or even another shutdown like the one that shuttered all state casinos earlier this year. If casinos close again and the in-person registration mandate remains, new customers are effectively barred from signing up for online sportsbooks.

Even before the pandemic, the in-person registration drew criticism.

Illinois casinos are spread throughout the state, making in-person signups difficult in the best of scenarios. A Chicago resident, for example, may not have much trouble signing up for the BetRivers mobile sportsbook by traveling to the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, but he or she would have to drive more than three hours to register for the DraftKings sportsbook in East St. Louis.

With only limited retail sportsbooks within easy access for most Illinois residents — and those facilities threatened by restricted hours, closures and customers unwilling to visit during a pandemic — would-be legal customers are more likely than not going to stick with offshore sites or unregulated bookmakers.

Even with legal sports betting’s rapid spread in the past two-and-half years, regulated wagering is still just an estimated eight percent of the unregulated market. Having five sportsbooks in Illinois, all with statewide mobile registration at least gives customers options and gives the legal market a fighting chance.

Sports Betting Revenues Thrive With Remote Registration

Mobile registration has been a success for the legal market so far — and for BetRivers in particular.

The five mobile sportsbooks recorded more than $300 million in wagers in September alone, the highest handle since Illinois wagering began in March. That record total came as two of the five online sportsbooks, PointsBet and William Hill, didn’t launch until Sept. 12 and Sept. 15, respectively.

BetRivers led all operators with more than $100 million in handle. DraftKings took in roughly $92 million in wagers, while FanDuel recorded $75 million, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

Roughly 93% of the combined handle came online.

With college and professional football — traditionally the most lucrative sports for operators — managing to continue their seasons, as well as PointsBet and William Hill set to announce full-month totals, October and November will almost assuredly top September’s record. With casino closures possible, it will depend on prolonged mobile registration if December has any shot to do the same.”

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