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Remote Sports Betting Registration Extended Again in Illinois

Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP

Remote sign-up for Illinois’s up-and-coming mobile sports betting platform has been extended again by Gov. JB Pritzker after the last extension ended Friday. Citizens of Illinois will now have until November 14 to sign up remotely, although yet another extension is certainly possible once this one runs out. Illinois mobile sports betting registrations, at one time were supposed to take place in person at brick-and-mortar facilities, but a number of factors have forced regulators to change course and allow, through an Executive Order, and online signup option – at least for now.

COVID-19 has definitely had an impact on legislators in Illinois with regard to their openness to allowing remote registration. It could also be a result of regulators looking at other jurisdictions with similar in-person only sign-up rules such as Nevada and realizing that generating just 65% of their monthly handles through betting apps will see the state fall behind in their quest to remain one of the most bet-friendly states in the US.

COVID Making It an Easy Decision

Gov. Pritzker and the state of Illinois are staring at yet another COVID spike unfortunately. Perhaps the extension of remote registration for sports betting was the easiest decision he’s had to make the last 8 or so months. Friday alone saw Illinois set a state record with 4,554 new cases of COVID-19.

It has been an interesting road for the mobile betting platform in Illinois. The first chance for the state’s bettors to sign up remotely for online sports wagering came June 4, during COVID lockdowns. The first extension for the relaxing of the in-person signup rule came July 26. Then came the new mobile registration Executive Order Aug. 21 which was extended when it ended September 19. October 17 was when that extension expired and now word has come down that November 14 is the cut-off date for online registration.

Keeping bettors out of casinos had to be the goal and one that is being accomplished with the continued extensions of Executive Order 2020-41.

The Numbers Back up the Decision

September has proven to be a boon for the sports betting industry across the US. While Illinois has yet to announce their September handle, they did set a record with their $140.1 million haul in August. 85% of the $140.1 million came from Illinois’ mobile betting platform – something that surely wouldn’t have happened if the state had maintained their in-person only registration policy.

Neighboring states like Indiana and Iowa have already posted their September figures and unsurprisingly, with the NFL starting and playoff action in MLB, the NBA and NHL filling the sports betting menus, those states set their own monthly handle records – the mobile platforms in those states were major contributors.

No Shortage of Competition in Illinois

The Illinois market is filling up by the day and has been characterized by books with strong mobile sports betting backgrounds. William Hill entered the Illinois scene September 16 and PointsBet made their aggressive move into the market during last month as well. There are now five betting apps live in the state with more to come as PointsBet gets their feet under themselves.

Illinois seems to be following what has worked in other successful jurisdictions around the country. Simply put, mobile betting is the key. With the coronavirus seemingly going nowhere, the success of the Illinois scene is incumbent on bettors being able to sign up remotely for the chance to place their bets.

The Right Thing to Do

Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois legislators have done the responsible thing for its citizens and a sports betting industry that has risen to fifth in the nation thanks to a $140.1 million sports betting handle in August. That number is expected grow again in the September figures that haven’t been released just yet.

The next move for Pritzker and Illinois lawmakers is to make the temporary change in the way people sign up for mobile sports betting permanent. Many suspect that will happen in November. Others aren’t so sure. Stay tuned!