The end is nigh for the rule in Illinois that requires bettors to travel to a casino if they want to wager at an online sportsbook.
Saturday will mark the lifting of mandatory in-person registration in the Land of Lincoln, which has had legal sports betting since March 2020.
However, the state’s sports-gambling law required players who wanted to wager online to first sign up in person at a licensed casino, racetrack, or off-track betting facility. The rule was intended as a way to help drive business to brick-and-mortar gambling locations.
Now, though, bettors will be able to sign up with online sportsbooks from wherever in Illinois. This follows the passage of legislation last year that set March 5 as the hard stop for in-person registration.
“That's a big deal for us in the state of Illinois,” said Jay Snowden, chief executive officer of Barstool Sportsbook-owner Penn National Gaming Inc., on an earnings call last month.
Ready to go
The end of in-person registration has the state’s licensed online sportsbooks chomping at the bit. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker did suspend the rule for a time during the COVID-19 pandemic but reinstated it last April, putting a damper on the mobile wagering business.
With the end in sight, some sportsbook operators are preparing to offer the sort of promotions reserved for new state launches. One major bookmaker, BetMGM, has even been waiting until March 5 to officially launch in Illinois.
Certain operators will launch their remote registration capabilities at different times tomorrow, too:
The eagerness of operators for remote registration is due at least in part to the opportunity offered by the Illinois gambling market. Figures from the American Gaming Association noted commercial sports wagering in the state last year amounted to $7 billion, which trailed only Nevada and New Jersey, even with in-person registration required.
Furthermore, the legislation that ushered in the end of in-person registration also authorized some previously-banned wagering on Illinois college teams. That betting can only be done before the game starts, the wagers must be placed in-person, and action must hinge only on the final score or outcome — no player props.
This limited form of college betting is only available until July of 2023 as well.
“In anticipation of this provision becoming law, after the bill was passed in October, gaming board staff sent notice to all Illinois sports wagering operators to advise them of the requirements that would be necessary for taking advantage [of] this law change,” Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter said during a January 27 meeting. “And my understanding is that they're working on implementing the necessary control standards and changes.