Illinois Governor Okays Mobile Sports Betting Without In-Person Registration

Published June 10, 2020 by Elana K

Illinois Governor Okays Mobile Sports Betting Without In-Person Registration

Illinois governor passes executive order allowing mobile sports bets without in-person registration. The main issue is that there are no licensed online sportsbooks in Illinois.

Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois signed an executive order on Thursday that will allow bettors to register for online sports betting from home. The original bill requires bettors to register in-person at casinos and racetracks before placing mobile bets, but COVID-19 has thrown those plans off-kilter. The hope is that the executive order will give a reboot to the state’s new, yet faltering, industry.

The main issue with the executive order is that there are no licensed sportsbooks in Illinois, so even though bettors are theoretically allowed to place bets from their mobile devices, there is nowhere to bet and scarcely anything to bet on. The Illinois Gaming Board will need to issue licenses swiftly in order for the governor’s executive order to be effective.

Casino Losses Due to Shutdown

Illinois lawmakers passed a large gambling expansion bill in June 2019, but it took time to get the details ironed out. In February 2020 Pritzker announced that sports betting would be operational in time for March Madness, but then COVID-19 struck. Once the virus started spreading and states started shutting down, Illinois lost a valuable stream of revenue.

The state’s 10 casinos have been shut down since March 16, a few weeks after the first sports bet was placed by Blackhawks announcer Eddie Olczyk. Illinois Casino Gaming Association executive director Tom Swoik estimates that the state’s casinos lost $100 million in the first 6 weeks alone.

Swoik praised Pritzker's executive order as a way to boost casino revenue. “It makes sense with everything going on," he said. "If we’d had online wagering this whole time, we could’ve still been making a little money and the state could’ve been making a little money, at least.”

Plans to Reopen

At this point, there is a possibility that Illinois casinos will open their doors once again in late June, but Pritzker has made no promises.

He said, “Whatever we do with regard to casinos and with video gaming terminals has got to be done with the thought in mind that the states and the cities that keep their people safest — this is the history of pandemics — the states and the cities that keep their people safest are the ones that do the best economically coming out of it.”

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