Illinois sports betting in-person registration reimposed


Illinois sports bettors who wish to wager online will once again have to register their account with one of the state’s land-based casinos after a recent decision by the governor.

On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office reissued a flurry of executive orders originally issued as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the order Pritzker issued last month that lifted the in-person registration requirement for online sports bettors wasn’t among the renewals.

Pritzker’s move means that, as of midnight Sunday (26), Illinois bettors who want to open an online betting account will have to visit the betting company’s land-based casino or racetrack partner. At present, only one of these venues – Rivers Casino Des Plaines – has an active online betting app although other operators are expected to launch soon.

Among those operators waiting in the wings is DraftKings, which surprised onlookers Thursday with its announcement of a deal with its Illinois land-based partner to rebrand the property DraftKings at Casino Queen. That deal appeared to give DraftKings a way to circumvent the 18-month ‘time out’ in the state’s betting legislation prohibiting online-only operators from using their own brands.

Pritzker’s decision not to renew the order pausing in-person registration follows the July 1 relaunch of land-based gaming operations that were forced to close in March due to COVID-19. But its timing, coming just one day after DraftKings announced its casino rebranding deal, could suggest that Pritzker wasn’t wild about the company attempting to undermine legislators’ intentions.

Before the state passed its betting legislation in June 2019, DraftKings and rival FanDuel aired ads attacking Rivers Casino Des Plaines operator Neil Bluhm for pushing for an even longer online-only time out (36 months). The ads were pulled at Pritzker’s request, based on his view that stakeholder in-fighting might hobble the state’s chance at achieving its sweeping gambling market overhaul.

FanDuel is rumored to be in the hunt to acquire the Fairmount Park Racetrack near St. Louis, and given DraftKings’ recent effort, any purchase would likely see FanDuel slap its name on the track to allow it to operate online in Illinois under its own brand name.

Regardless, the reimposition of in-person registration will negatively impact Illinois online betting adoption, at least in the short term. For instance, both the Fairmount track and DraftKings’ casino partner are around 300 miles from Chicago, meaning online bettors are facing one hell of a road trip just to sign up with the apps.