Did Illinois Sports Betting Just Go Mobile Months Early?

Posted on June 5, 2020

The Illinois sports betting market got a significant boost from Gov. JB Pritzker as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The requirement for online IL sports betting accounts to be created through in-person registration is currently suspended, Pritzker decided through executive order:

“During the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations, the provisions in the Sports Wagering Act, 230 ILCS 45/25-30(f), 25-35(f), and 25-40(i), 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.”

There’s no end date to the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamations as Pritzker re-declared all counties as disaster areas May 29. That means for the foreseeable future, online sports betting operators could get a significant jump on building their player databases.

But conflicting information was released Friday through a press release from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) describing the executive order. The release states the order will remain in effect “until the Illinois Gaming Board issues a master sports wagering license.”

An IGB representative did not yet respond to a request for clarification.

The problem: no online Illinois sports betting operators

The issue with the executive order is that it doesn’t make a difference right now: There are no licensed online sportsbooks operating in Illinois.

In fact, no online sportsbooks have even applied for a license, according to the Illinois Gaming Board’s applicant list. The regulators next meet June 11.

The state was supposed to be limited to in-person registration until the first $20 million standalone mobile license is approved. Those are only available after the market is open for 18 months.

Illinois sports betting launched in March right before the US sports betting world began to shut down because of the coronavirus. Rivers Des Plaines launched its sportsbook under the BetRivers brand first with Argosy Alton following days later.

There are only two approved management service providers: Penn Sports Interactive and Rush Street Interactive. DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, PointsBet and William Hill are listed as applicants.

Illinois losing tax dollars to Indiana

The change could help Illinois keep some of the tax dollars that have been flowing over the border into the Indiana sports betting market.

Horseshoe Hammond, which sits just 20 miles from downtown Chicago, consistently ranks as the top retail sportsbook in terms of handle in Indiana.

Ameristar East Chicago, which sits about 10 miles farther than Horseshoe, typically ranks third in the state.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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