Illinois to End In-Person Registration Requirement for Online Sports Betting in March

  • Bettors must currently signup for online sports wagering accounts at a casino
  • An amendment also allows for eventual betting on in-state colleges
  • In-person requirement was suspended for most of 2020 during the pandemic
  • Online-only sports betting licenses cost $20m
Chicago skyline
The Illinois legislature has passed an amendment to allow the in-person registration mandate for online sports betting accounts to expire on March 5, 2022. [Image:]

In-state college betting coming, too

The in-person registration requirement for online sports betting accounts in Illinois is finally set to come to an end, though it will still be a while. On Thursday, the Illinois General Assembly agreed to amendments to HB 3136, which circles March 5, 2022, as the expiration date for the unpopular rule.

Prop bets and in-play bets on college games will be prohibited.

The amendments also allow people to place bets on sporting events involving in-state colleges and universities. The one catch is that those bets may only be made at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. Only Tier 1 bets are allowed, which means pre-game wagers that are based on the final score of the game. Prop bets and in-play bets on college games will be prohibited. Unfortunately for bettors, this change will take longer than the in-person registration expiration, as it won’t go into effect for more than a year.

In April, State Rep. Mike Zalewski said that the ban on in-state school betting was lowering the ceiling of the Illinois market by 15%. At the same time, though, restricting such bets to only in-person likely shrinks their impact.

Rule favored casinos

The requirement that bettors register their online wagering accounts in person at a retail sportsbook, however backwards it may seem, was instituted to protect the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos. It was also a shot at online-only books like DraftKings and FanDuel, though both have established retail presences in Illinois.

Two idea was twofold: a) give the retail outlets a head start and hopefully help them build a customer base over the DraftKings and FanDuel name brands, and b) get people in the casinos to spend money.

Legal sports betting launched in March 2020, just days before the pandemic shutdowns. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order on June 4, 2020, temporarily pausing the in-person registration mandate and allowing people to create online betting accounts safely from home.

Pritzker reinstated the in-person rule in late July of last year, but paused it again the following month. He renewed the executive order every month until April 2021. On April 4, people once again had to go to a casino to register.

Online-only licenses cost a fortune

There is a chance that the in-person registration requirement could end before March 5, 2022, should the Illinois Gaming Board grant an online-only license to an operator. One would think that is unlikely to happen, however, as such a license runs $20m.

In June, Illinois became the fastest state to reach $5bn in handle, hitting in the mark in just 16 months, despite the pandemic shutting down most sports for several months. New Jersey had been the record holder at 18 months. Through August, 96% of bets in the state were made online.

Additionally, most of the big names are already in Illinois, partnered with casinos. As mentioned, two of those are DraftKings and FanDuel, which are online-only, but they have linked up with Casino Queen and Par-A-Dice Casino, respectively. BetMGM is the one “brand name” that does not have a presence in Illinois.

Operators have until December 3 to apply for a mobile sports betting license.

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