Illinois guv reinstates mobile sports betting registration (until Sept. 19)


Illinois sports bettors are rejoicing on news that their governor has once again lifted the ban on mobile registration for new online betting accounts.    

On Friday, sports betting lobbyist Jeremy Kudon tweeted that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had (for the second time) relaxed the state’s requirement for new betting customers to register in person at a betting site’s land-based casino or racetrack partner.

The move comes just days after the Illinois Gaming Board issued new restrictions on land-based gambling venues in several counties in which COVID cases were on the rise. The restrictions narrowed the window of time in which the venues were allowed to open and reduced their capacity to 25% of normal, making it even more difficult to sign up new bettors. 

Online betting operators that had already received the go-ahead to commence wagering in the state, including DraftKings, were bemoaning the fact that bettors in Chicago have to basically dedicate a whole day to driving to their far-flung land-based casino partners in order to open betting accounts.

With the clock counting down to (presumably) a new NFL season, DraftKings and other operators were in full tempus freaking fugit mode, urging bettors to contact Pritzker as well as their local state representative and senator to demand the reinstatement of mobile registration.  

Whether or not that campaign had any impact, Pritzker’s latest executive order will allow mobile registration only until September 19, although the possibility exists that it could be extended again if there’s no improvement on the viral front.

Last month, Pritzker chose not to renew the in-person registration exemption, a curious decision given the COVID situation was anything but resolved at the time. Speculation has it that operators with an axe to grind with DraftKings and its rival FanDuel – we’re looking at you, Rush Street Gaming – lobbied hard to convince Pritzker to not do the online-only betting sites any favors.  

News broke this week that FanDuel was preparing to launch in Illinois through its partnership with Boyd Gaming and its Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria. That sound you hear is champagne corks popping at companies like FanDuel and PointsBet, which received its Illinois betting license last month through its partnership with the Hawthorne Racecourse just outside Chicago. 

Enjoy that champagne, boys, but then your marketing departments need to kick into overdrive to ensure they sign up as many customers as they can before Pritzker changes his mind again.