Governor J.B. Pritzker abruptly rescinded remote registration for mobile Illinois sports betting accounts as of tomorrow, effectively ending DraftKings‘ plans to launch its app in the state for now.
Pritzker issued Friday a new Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation and he will no longer suspend the state’s in-person registration requirement. He reissued a number of executive orders but not the one related to sports betting.
The governor first lifted that mandate via a June 8 order in response to the coronavirus pandemic forcing state casinos to close. Illinois casinos received permission to reopen July 1.
The sudden move sends a shockwave through the IL sports betting market days before DraftKings reportedly expected to launch its mobile app. Today becomes the final day of remote registration and the only sportsbook/casino combo licensed to operate in Illinois belongs to BetRivers. DraftKings received its license last week but partner property Casino Queen remains on hold for its certificate.
Rivers, DraftKings at odds in Illinois sports betting
If DraftKings scraps its mobile IL sports betting startup plan through its partnership with Casino Queen, it will represent another loss for the DFS giant in an ongoing battle with Rush Street, the parent company of Rivers. The enmity among the parties dates back to DraftKings and FanDuel offering DFS contests in apparent defiance of a 2015 Illinois attorney general opinion declaring them illegal.
Along with FanDuel, DraftKings squared off with Rush Street last year during the lawmaking process for sports betting in Illinois. Rush Street attempted to sideline DraftKings and FanDuel for as long as the first three years of sports wagering in the state.
FanDuel and DraftKings responded with a $1 million TV ad campaign aimed at Rivers. The companies pulled the ads at the Pritzker’s request and legislators changed the sports betting bill to and 18-month ‘penalty box.’
Working around the restrictions
The final Illinois sports betting bill required FanDuel and DraftKings to use one of two methods to enter the mobile market:
- Wait 18 months from the start of mobile sports betting and competitively bid for a $20 million untethered license
- Partner with an existing Illinois casino and launch under that property’s brand
DraftKings chose the latter, striking a deal with Casino Queen and rebranding the property as “DraftKings at Casino Queen” as of last week. The company then ramped up its launch plans this weekend on social media with pre-registration offers:
Don’t wait, Illinois. Get started with our free-to-play pools for your chance at thousands in cash prizes.
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) July 25, 2020
FanDuel also received its Illinois sports betting license last week. The company remains without a partner despite rumors of its interest in purchasing a horse racing track to enter the market.
A request for comment from the Illinois Gaming Board was not immediately returned.