Illinois Governor Suspends In-Person Registration for Online Sports Betting During COVID-19

  • J.B. Pritzker issued executive order suspending in-person requirement on Thursday
  • Decision set to make it easier for bettors to set up sports wagering accounts remotely
  • One or more Illinois digital sportsbooks could launch later this month
  • BetRivers sportsbook expected to be first to get to market for mobile
Illinois welcome sign
The Illinois governor has issued an order suspending in-person sports betting registration during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update: A press release issued on June 5 by the Illinois Gaming Board specifies that “temporarily suspending the in-person registration requirement will allow fans to create online accounts and place wagers from the safety of their own homes while continuing to provide the state with revenue. Executive Order 2020-41 will remain in effect until the Illinois Gaming Board issues a master sports wagering license.”

Executive order issued

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order suspending the requirement for the state’s residents to register for online sports betting services in person.

Section I of the order, published on Thursday, states: “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.”

The governor’s executive order is expected to enable people from the Land of Lincoln to sign up for sportsbook accounts remotely.

Brick-and-mortar dilemma

When Illinois legalized sports betting last year by passing a $12 billion capital bill into law, the statute set an 18-month window requiring customers to set up mobile accounts at brick-and-mortar casinos or sportsbooks.

According to reports, sports bettors will now be able to set up wagering accounts online or via an operator’s mobile application. While there are no legal digital sportsbooks operating in the state, one or more could get the nod to launch at a later stage.

Illinois residents may not be able to appear in-person at a casino”

Gov. Pritzker’s new order recognizes that “Illinois residents may not be able to appear in-person at a casino,” with no reopening guidelines yet established in the wake of coronavirus. It also states that gambling establishments “will reopen only when safe to do so pursuant to the Restore Illinois plan.”

Different states, different laws

Illinois’ state law was passed around the same time as similar legislation in Indiana and Iowa, with both states launching sports betting in the summer of 2019. Illinois opened its first sportsbook on March 9, just two days before COVID-19 led to the suspension of all sporting events. All casinos in Illinois have been shuttered since March 16.

Mobile sports betting registration rules vary across different states. In-person sign-ups are not required in Indiana, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Iowa has an 18-month period similar to that in Illinois which will terminate this year.

With Nevada requiring in-person registration, some of the state’s sportsbook operators opened drive-through facilities for customers to set up their betting accounts during the COVID-19 peak.

All eyes on June 11 meeting

Only two state casinos, Rivers Casino – which launched its BetRivers sportsbook on March 9 – and the Argosy, can accept sports wagers at their retail facilities. No sportsbooks are currently licensed to operate online.

BetRivers sportsbook looks to be in pole position

Illinois’ Casino Queen, Grand Victoria Casino, Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino, and the Hollywood Casinos in Joliet and Aurora are in possession of provisional operating permits. They are unable to accept bets before the IGB meeting takes place on June 11.

The meeting’s agenda includes clarification of a proposed rule on mobile sports wagering branding. BetRivers sportsbook looks to be in pole position to enter the mobile market. Its parent company, Rush Street Interactive, has already been approved as its Management Services Provider, while GeoComply will act as its supplier.