Illinois Governor Brings Remote Sports Betting Registration to a Halt

  • Illinoisans must now resume in-person registration for online sports betting accounts
  • Gov. Pritzker reissued a number of executive orders but omitted Executive Order 2020-41
  • New proclamation has dealt DraftKings a massive blow following its Casino Queen deal last week
highway road sign with word Illinois and state map
Governor J.B. Pritzker’s new proclamation did not extend the executive order suspending in-person registration for online sports betting accounts in Illinois. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Ending the COVID-19 order

Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a new Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation on Friday, effectively ending the rights of Illinoisans to register remotely for online sports betting accounts.

In early June, the Prairie State governor initially lifted the in-person registration requirement with Executive Order 2020-41 following the outbreak of COVID-19. The order suspended the need for bettors to create an account at a casino or sportsbook facility “in order to participate in sports wagering offered over the internet or through a mobile application.”

Executive Order 2020-41 was conspicuous by its absence”

While Pritzker reissued and extended a number of executive orders on Friday, Executive Order 2020-41 was conspicuous by its absence. Its non-renewal creates real difficulties for Illinois sportsbooks such as DraftKings, which recently offered Illinois bettors a free $100 wager for signing up ahead of its official state launch.

In a June 8 press release, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) stated that “Executive Order 2020-41 will remain in effect during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation or the Illinois Gaming Board issues a competitively bid master sports wagering license.” While the IGB has not yet issued a statement regarding Pritzker’s latest proclamation, it is scheduled to meet on July 30.

DraftKings’ Illinois presence impacted

The reintroduction of the temporarily suspended in-person registration in the Land of Lincoln comes as a particular blow for DraftKings. Just last week, DraftKings struck a deal with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, rebranding the casino DraftKings at Casino Queen. While DraftKings intends to open a retail sportsbook at the Illinois location, Casino Queen has not yet received approval to offer sports wagering.

A week ago, DraftKings chief business officer Ezra Kucharz spoke of the excitement surrounding the team-up and “becoming a part of the fabric of Illinois’ rich sports culture.” Casino president Terry Downey echoed Kucharz’s optimism, adding that customers “will consider only one choice for gaming and sports betting; DraftKings at Casino Queen.”

War of attrition

The Prairie State has proved something of a minefield for DraftKings. In May 2019, DraftKings joined forces with FanDuel and began flighting a $1m ad campaign targeted at Rivers Casinos after it backed a proposal that would prohibit the two sportsbooks from operating in the state’s sports betting market for three years.

DraftKings and FanDuel were ordered to pull the TV ads and legislators changed the sports betting bill to include a clause dubbed “penalty box”. The inbuilt clause, intended to favor local online-only sportsbooks, prevented operators such as Draftkings and FanDuel from launching a sportsbook in the state for 18 months.

latest wild twist in the DraftKings-Illinois tale”

After the sportsbook found a way around the penalty box clause along with FanDuel, this latest wild twist in the DraftKings-Illinois tale is potentially the cruelest.   

Sports betting was legalized in Illinois in 2019, with BetRivers becoming the first online sportsbook in the state to launch on June 18. Pritzker’s new proclamation means the BetRivers combo of Rush Street Interactive and Rivers Casino remains the only casino sportsbook duo currently licensed to operate in Illinois.