Illinois Sports Betting Remote Registration Date Set By Lawmakers
Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Wintrust Arena.
Illinois sports bettors will likely have to register in-person at state gaming facilities until March 5, 2022 as part of a gaming bill lawmakers passed Thursday night.
For the next four months, Illinois bettors must complete online sportsbook registration at one of the state’s six operators’ brick-and-mortar partners. Existing state law allows regulators to award an online-only license to a sportsbook not affiliated with a retail gaming facility, which would subsequently end the statewide in-person registration requirement for all operators, but it’s too early to tell if they will do so.
The burdensome in-person registration process has been largely maligned by bettors and gaming stakeholders, which note this merely limits legal betting participation, hurts existing sportsbooks and sends would-be legal bettors to offshore sites or unlicensed bookmakers.
Today, an Illinois sports bettor in the Chicagoland area would have to drive several hours across the state to sign up for the DraftKings or FanDuel sportsbooks, the nation’s leaders by market share, both of which have retail partners in the East St. Louis area. Conversely, a St. Louis-area bettor would have to take a similar cross-state trip to register for Barstool or BetRivers, both of which have retail gaming partners in the Chicago suburbs.
Illinois and Nevada are the only two states currently with such a requirement. Notably, in-person registration is far less cumbersome in Nevada, with more than 100 locations to register for sportsbooks.
A small consolation for bettors and sportsbooks is the March 5 date allows remote registration ahead of the 2022 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, perennially the most bet-on sporting event in the U.S.
The legislation also permits Wintrust Arena, home to the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, to apply for an in-stadium sports betting license. Illinois previously allowed a handful of additional facilities to apply for retail sports betting licenses, including Wrigley Field (which unveiled its in-stadium sportsbook plans earlier this year) as well as Soldier Field and the United Center, though the licensing process has not begun yet.
Additionally, the gaming package will allow retail casinos to take pre-game wagers on in-state college teams for a two-year trial period beginning next year. Bettors can not wager on programs such as the University of Illinois or Northwestern University online, nor on individual player props.
Illinois Sports Betting Background
Illinois lawmakers included the in-person registration requirement as part of a sweeping gaming bill passed in 2019. Advocates argued the required visit to a casino or horse track would increase foot traffic and increase revenue for state gaming facilities.
The first online sportsbook (BetRivers) opened in summer 2020 when its partner (Des Plaines Casino) and all other casinos were shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Later that year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a series of monthly executive orders that permitted online registration.
In April 2021, he let the order expire, reinstating the in-person registration requirement. Sportsbook stakeholders had hoped the executive orders would continue until the original law sunset the in-person registration requirement, which was tied to the opening of the first online sportsbook.
Instead, the bill passed Thursday likely means bettors will still have to wait until next year to register remotely.
In the meantime, more sportsbooks are preparing to enter the market once remote registration begins. BetMGM and Bally Bet are among the books that will likely go live sometime after March 5, 2022.
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