J.B. Pritzker Once Again Extends Illinois Sports Betting Online Registration

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has extended the state’s online sports betting registration window through January 9, 2021. 

This marks the sixth time Pritzker has extended online registration for Illinois bettors, continuing a trend that began with March’s casino closures.

Illinois sports betting law requires sports bettors to visit a casino or race track property in-person to finalize the registration process. However, just as sportsbooks began to launch in the Land of Lincoln, Pritzker suspended the in-person requirement to drive sign-ups during a time when players can’t reasonably be expected to visit a public space. 

This latest extension comes on the heels of Pritzkers November 13 extension and similar orders in October, September, and so on. It comes in the form of an executive order renewal. 

Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-74 on December 11. The order’s primary purpose is to re-issue a number of smaller orders, thereby extending their coverage. Order 2020-74 includes a re-issue of Executive Order 2020-41, which extends the online registration window through January 9, 2021. 

Online Registration Likely To Continue

Pritzker seems content to re-issue the order and allow Illinois bettors to register online on a month by month basis. If this pattern continues, we’ll see another re-issue of Executive Order 2020-41 during the first days of 2021. 

Many perceived Illinois’ in-person registration requirement to be a nod to Rush Street Interactive, an Illinois based company and operator of the BetRivers sportsbook. The idea was to make it more difficult for companies like DraftKings and FanDuel–two organizations with a tumultuous DFS-related legal history in Illinois–to bring their solutions to the state.

But DraftKings and FanDuel are already live in Illinois via partnerships with Casino Queen and Par-A-Dice casino, respectively. Australia-based and Colorado-headquartered PointsBet is available through its partnership with Hawthorne Race Course. William Hill rounds out the slate of current operators; Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin is William Hill’s partner. 

The stipulation supposedly intended to give Illinois companies an advantage has done very little to stop operators from joining the state’s market. With casinos shut down and revenue on the rise, a halt to online registrations seems unwise and, frankly, ridiculous. 

And here’s the kicker: Illinois law allows for three online-only sports betting licenses 18 months after the first sportsbook launch. That timeline is starting to dwindle, and the state could see a sportsbook sans land-based partner by the end of 2021. At that point, online registrations will become a necessity, rather than a nice-to-have. 

Illinois Revenue On The Rise

The latest Illinois Gaming Board revenue report shows that the state drew in more than $434 million in handle during the month of October. That translates to about $42 million in revenue.

October marked a significant increase in handle for Illinois. September handle breached $285 million. The sate surpassed Indiana with those numbers and continues to increase based on month to month trends.

Illinois’ Sports Betting Neighbors

Illinois is nestled in a growing region for online sports betting. The state has five sportsbooks live, and many of its neighbors have hopped on the sports betting bandwagon as well. They’ve each take a slightly different approach to online registration.

Indiana has had online registration available from the get-go. Illinois still surpasses its Hoosier neighbor in revenue, most likely due to the population disparity.

Iowa requires in-person registration for its sportsbooks, but that requirement lapses in January 2021. Very soon, Iowa bettors will be able to register completely online. This could boost the state’s revenue, though it’s unlikely to be a huge competitor to either Illinois or Indiana. Iowa has a population of about 3.1 million. Indiana’s is about 6.7 million, and Illinois’ is 12.63 million.

Michigan stands to become one of Illinois’ biggest regional competitors. The state is expected to launch online sports betting within the first two months of 2021, and there’s no in-person registration requirement. Michigan’s open attitude toward online gambling also includes a pending online casino launch. With a population of nearly 10 million, the Great Lakes State is likely to give Illinois a run for its money. Online gambling sites in Michigan are already offering pre-launch bonus offers.

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based freelance writer in the gambling, media, and entertainment space. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier. Cole writes for a number of online and print publications, including The Quill To Live, a book review site.