Three Reasons Illinois Should Make Mobile Sports Betting Registration Permanent

Mobile sports betting registration in Illinois will remain in place until at least November 14th, 2020.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a renewal order on October 16th to extend remote registration through November 14th. Under the order, Illinois bettors may sign up for online betting accounts from anywhere with no visit to a brick-and-mortar casino necessary.

The Illinois sports betting law passed last year includes a provision requiring bettors to visit a casino in person to sign up for online betting accounts. The law calls for in-person registration to be in place for 18 months following the launch of sports betting.

Coronavirus-related casino closures prompted Governor Pritzker to sign an executive order in June to permit remote registration during the pandemic.

Governor Pritzker allowed the first remote registration order to expire on July 26th as casinos across the state began to reopen. However, he signed a second order in August and has since renewed it two more times to promote social distancing amid rising SARS-CoV-2 case numbers.

Should Illinois End In-Person Registration Permanently?

Illinois sports betting launched a full four months ago and has permitted remote registration for most of that time. At this rate, it may make more sense to end the in-person mandate permanently.

Resuming in-person registration would be as simple as Governor Pritzker allowing the current order to expire next month. However, there are three reasons Illinois should consider making remote registration permanent.

COVID-19 Shutdown Threat Persists

Illinois casinos will likely be dealing with social distancing guidelines, if not outright closures, for quite some time.

Governor Pritzker decided to suspend in-person registration during the summer months, during which there was a lull in new coronavirus cases. If the situation then was worrisome enough to suspend in-person registration, it seems unlikely conditions will improve as the weather grows colder and coronavirus cases surge once again.

Illinois Should Not Pick Winners and Losers

The longer Illinois waits to reinstate in-person registration, the more it risks picking winners and losers in the new online sports betting market.

With additional operators waiting to launch, the reintroduction of in-person registration would put them at a disadvantage versus operators that have benefitted from remote registration for months.

As BettingUSA’s Steve Ruddock noted in June:

The likely outcome would be a rush of Illinoisans registering accounts remotely at any site they can during the temporary removal of the in-person registration requirement. If the in-person mandate returns say three months later, the second wave of operators would be competing on an uneven playing field. Most customers would already have accounts and are less likely to switch if they have to drive to a casino to open a new account. Basically, the initial rush of remote registrations would slow to a trickle of in-person registrations.

Illinois already raised some eyebrows when it authorized remote registration just ahead of the launch of BetRivers (operated by Chicago’s Rush Street Gaming) and then allowed it to expire just before the launch of DraftKings.

Illinois Could Use the Revenue

Illinois could use the revenue generated by online sports betting, especially if the state again forces casinos to close or significantly reduce operations. The three-month shutdown already cost the state $200 million in tax revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30th.

By comparison, New Jersey kept gambling revenue dollars flowing during the mandated shutdowns earlier this year. New Jersey has the benefit of also having legal online casinos and poker, an advantage Illinois does not have, but even a little revenue is better than none.

Illinois took in nearly $140 million in wagers in August, the state’s first full month with sports betting and a full calendar of events to wager on since March.

That’s still well short of the $1.2 billion collectively wagered in PA and NJ according to those states’ most recent revenue reports, but it indicates Illinois has a lot of room to grow should it continue to permit online registration.

Latest posts