Many residents of Illinois and the surrounding areas were wondering why Gov. JB Pritzker would ever make in-person registration for sports betting accounts a mandatory practice. It’s fair to question, considering the United States is in a pandemic because of the outbreak of COVID-19.
However, Pritzker and the good people of Illinois got together last Friday and made an excellent decision for the sports betting population. This week, customers will be able to sign up for an account online and avoid close contact with others from in-person registration.
The timing comes after the newer restrictions on brick-and-mortar gaming facilities in numerous Illinois counties where coronavirus cases are on the rise. The updated ordinances include shortened business hours and a 75 percent decrease in capacity for sites. The fewer the people allowed inside, the lower number of customers playing at locations or being able to register onsite.
Before this decision to allow mobile sign-up, residents of Illinois had to physically show up to one of the few sportsbooks in the state set up for sports betting. On June 8, Pritzker suspended in-person registration, but then reverted on July 26, putting an end to online sign-up.
As for the actual language of the change, it looked like this:
WHEREAS, due to social distancing requirements put in place to protect public health, and because existing licensed casino gambling facilities authorized pursuant to the Sports Wagering Act have been closed to the public since March 16, 2020 and will reopen only when safe to do so pursuant to the Restore Illinois plan, Illinois residents may not be able to appear in-person at a licensed casino;
Section 1. 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.
During the time when online registration was available, DraftKings went forward and launched its Illinois sportsbook with the thought it would capitalize on getting all of those sign-ups online. Now, after believing that in-person sign-ups were going to be happening more often at its East St. Louis location, DraftKings can get back to marketing to customers in the Chicago area. You can assure there to be plenty of great deals that will get people excited about signing up.
Besides the heavyweight DraftKings, other sportsbooks are still expected to do decent business in Illinois with the online-only registration. FanDuel, which has a considerable footprint in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is always looking to get its online sportsbook in Illinois; the timeline for that arrival wasn’t known at the current time.
PointsBet was hoping to get in on the retail location of the sportsbook, but that effort was cut short. Rivers Casino, located just outside of Chicago, was one of the driving forces behind the in-person registration in Illinois because they are one of the most convenient locations to access. Rivers will have to put more marketing into their online booking now.
The new ruling will stay in place until September 19, hoping that everything stays online for the foreseeable future. There is no need for customers to have to come into retail locations during the COVID-19 pandemic.