Remote Registration Returns In Illinois

March 7, 2022
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The third largest U.S. sports betting market kicked into a higher gear this weekend as bettors in Illinois became eligible to register for accounts without visiting a land-based casino for the first time in almost a year.

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The third largest U.S. sports betting market kicked into a higher gear this weekend as bettors in Illinois became eligible to register for accounts without visiting a land-based casino for the first time in almost a year.

Illinois’ online sportsbooks became authorized to accept remote account registrations from midnight on Saturday (March 5), in line with House Bill 3136, approved by lawmakers last year and signed by Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker in December.

The move brings an end to perhaps the most volatile regulatory matter since 2018’s historic Supreme Court ruling that legalized sports betting across the country.

Aimed at limiting the dominance of FanDuel and DraftKings over incumbent Illinois casino brands, a 2019 law initially required in-person registration until the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) awarded the first of up to three online-only licenses.

However, the requirement was twice waived between Summer 2020 and April 2021 under an emergency order signed by Pritzker aimed at alleviating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The March 5 permanent start date for remote registration agreed to by lawmakers last year immediately brought a new player to the Illinois market in the shape of BetMGM.

The company launched its online sportsbook on Saturday through a market-access partnership with Boyd Gaming’s Par-A-Dice casino in the city of East Peoria, after one of the big three U.S. operators stayed on the sidelines throughout Illinois’ in-person registration era.

“This launch marks a significant milestone for BetMGM as we enter one of the country’s biggest sports betting markets,” BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said in a statement.

Reflecting the more restrictive scope of Illinois’ law, BetMGM becomes just the seventh online sports-betting operator live in the state, joining FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, Caesars, Barstool and PointsBet.

2021 US market

Despite in-person registration, Illinois still moved past Pennsylvania to become the second largest online sports betting market in the country last year, worth $498.8m in annual gross revenue, trailing only New Jersey.

The permanent move to remote registration now leaves Nevada as the only state that requires mobile wagering accounts to be created in-person, with Iowa and Rhode Island also having initially required in-person registration before either repealing the provisions or allowing them to expire.

Supplier Licensing In Focus

As noted in last month’s VIXIO GamblingCompliance U.S. Sports Betting Outlook, the return of remote registration is not the lone unsettled area in the Illinois market.

The IGB last year received three valid applications for the state’s three online-only sports betting licenses, which will each require a $20m upfront fee. The board has not yet published the names of the applicants, however, and it remains to be seen when the licenses will actually be awarded.

Elsewhere, none of the eight Illinois sports arenas eligible to host a retail sportsbook operation has yet opened one, with the City of Chicago only passing local legislation to enable the likes of Wrigley Field and the United Center to do so late last year.

Illinois’ 2019 law also authorized the state lottery to deploy a pilot program consisting of up to 5,000 sports parlay kiosks at bars and other retail locations across the state.

Potential providers have cited concerns with the terms of the program, however, with bills introduced in the Illinois General Assembly this year to extend it until 2030 and lower an upfront fee from $20m to $1m.

None of several bills related to the lottery pilot project has so far been passed out of committee during Illinois’ 2022 legislative session.

On February 25, the state Senate did unanimously pass a bill to change the terms of supplier licenses for sports wagering in Illinois.

Under Senate Bill 2973, holders of sports wagering supplier licenses would be required to pay a $50,000 fee for each four-year renewable license term, instead of the current $150,000 annually.

The bill, which now must be passed in the House, follows supplier licensing amendments made in last year’s legislation that addressed remote registration.

Those provisions established the four-year term for supplier licensing instead of annual renewals, and clarified that existing supplier licensees for casino gaming in Illinois should not have to undergo an additional background investigation in order to participate in sports wagering.

Q&A: Sports Betting in Illinois

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