Illinois Sports Betting In-Person Registration Rule Gets Partial Fix

Posted on October 28, 2021
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Written By on October 28, 2021

Illinois sports betting has a definitive date for the expiration of in-person registration.

It still will not be anytime soon though.

The Illinois General Assembly concurred on amendments to HB 3136 Thursday night, which sets March 5, 2022, as the date in-person registration will be removed. That restriction would also expire should the Illinois Gaming Board award a mobile-only license prior to that date.

The bill also allows pregame bets on in-state colleges, as long as they are in-person. Those bets were not accepted before this bill’s passage and still must wait more than a year to become legal.

Why the need for IL sports betting amendment?

The IGB opened mobile-only license applications earlier this year. The Illinois sports betting market with operators tied to casinos in the state for access.

Those mobile-only licenses cost $20 million. Aside from BetMGM Sportsbook, most market-leading US sportsbooks are already in the Illinois market, including DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.

Any operator not already in an established market, particularly a large state like Illinois, might not shell out for such a substantial license fee. The bid deadline is Dec. 3.

The original intent of the in-person registration was meant to provide support to brick-and-mortar casinos.

Mobile already king in Illinois

Despite the in-person registration limits, Illinois has established itself as a top-5 sports betting market, including regularly hitting No. 3 in monthly handle. It was No. 2 in April and May.

Likewise, despite the restriction, 96% of bets in Illinois this year through August were placed online. In large part, that is because of the unexpected period in which Illinois bettors were freed from the archaic in-person rule.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois suspended the in-person registration requirement. Gov. JB Pritzker ended that executive order in April.

Breaking down the dam in Illinois

Allowing remote registration could give an already ripe sports betting market a boost. When Iowa sports betting’s in-person restriction expired in December 2020, monthly handle jumped from $104.8 million in December 2020 to $149.5 million in January 2021.

Now in its first football season with remote registration, Iowa hit an all-time high in September with $210.4 million in handle.

Illinois’ record month was March 2021, when the state’s bettors wagered $633.6 million.

Illinois college betting could be a boost too

In April, iDEA Growth spokesperson John Pappas told a House committee the ban on in-state college betting could be limiting the market by 15%. With the in-person restriction to in-state bets, that estimate might not hold true because of the heavy mobile tilt in the market.

Still, with a University of Illinois basketball team starting the season ranked No. 11, some bettors might make the trek to a casino and bump the handle a bit.

The college restriction will be in place until at least 2023.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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