Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker opted not to renew Executive Order 2020-41 among his series of renewals Friday, meaning the in-person requirement to obtain access for mobile sports betting in Illinois as part of the bill signed into law in June 2019 goes back into effect Sunday.
A spokesperson for Pritzker’s office told Sports Handle via email: “Illinois is currently in Phase Four with vaccination rates rapidly increasing and casinos around the state have reopened with safety guidelines in place, so the suspension of in-person sports betting registration requirements is no longer needed.”
Beginning Sunday morning, anyone who wants to wager online will have to visit a retail casino in order to finish the registration process. Operators favor remote registration as a more efficient way to register users, and they argue that it helps to stamp out the black market by making sports betting apps more accessible. The latest change already isn’t sitting well with many stakeholders, though so far none will comment on the record.
Originally issued last June to help sports betting get off the ground in the Prairie State during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Executive Order 2020-41 allowed people to download apps without having to register at casinos. In a four-month span after being initially issued, five operators — BetRivers, DraftKings, William Hill, FanDuel, and PointsBet — all launched mobile operations.
The most recent entry into the online landscape — Barstool Sportsbook — started accepting bets last month. Two other potential mobile operators, BetMGM and Unibet, are listed as applicants on the Illinois Gaming Board’s official website for Management Services Provider licenses, which are required to offer online wagering.
Here’s where to go to register
With Pritzker opting to let the executive order lapse after nine renewals, bettors who want a particular sports betting app will have to visit the corresponding casino in order to gain access to it on their mobile phones. For example, a bettor who wants the DraftKings app would have to register at Casino Queen in East St. Louis along the Missouri border.
That area is one of two places bettors can register for the FanDuel app, which has retail locations at its Sportsbook & Horse Racing location at Fairmount Park in Collinsville and Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria. Barstool Sportsbook, which launched last month as the sixth mobile operator in Illinois, is tethered to Hollywood Casino in Aurora in suburban Chicago and also has retail tie-ins at Hollywood Joliet and the Argosy Casino in Alton.
BetRivers, PointsBet, and William Hill all have retail locations in the Chicagoland area. BetRivers is operated through Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, just beyond the city limits, PointsBet can be accessed at Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney as well as at off-track betting locations in Crestwood and Prospect Heights. William Hill operates via Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.
Is it the best time to let 2020-41 lapse?
Though the constant renewals of Executive Order 2020-41 had to end at some point, doing so now provides multiple points of debate. For starters, while COVID-19 vaccinations are in full swing across the state — the Illinois Department of Public Health reported more than 6 million doses had been administered as of midnight Thursday — it also reported 3,235 new COVID-19 cases Friday and 24 deaths.
The first two days of April have seen a significant uptick in confirmed new cases across the state, with Thursday’s total of 3,526 the most in Illinois since 3,660 were reported Feb. 5.
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeOstrowski) April 2, 2021
Additionally, the state’s 10 casinos are operating at 50% capacity per COVID-19 mitigation rules since reopening in mid-January. The venues were closed at two different points during 2020, first from mid-March through July 1, and again from mid-November until their most recent re-openings at limited capacity in mid-January.
History and effects of Executive Order 2020-41
Executive Order 2020-41 was instrumental in getting sports wagering in Illinois off the ground during the COVID-19 pandemic despite limited wagering offerings in June. After Pritzker initially let it lapse last July, DraftKings backed a grassroots email campaign to have the order reinstated, something the governor did in August prior to the repeated renewals that carried all the way through to March 5.
Those renewals helped rocket Illinois to top-four status nationally during the fall and winter in terms of monthly sports betting handle, behind only New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, with the most recent report by the IGB for January showing a record $581.5 million wagered. Of that amount, more than $575.2 million — or nearly 99% — came via online or mobile wagering.
Since the ceremonial first bet was placed at BetRivers in March 2020, Illinois has generated nearly $2.5 billion in handle, and almost 96% of that amount has come from online and mobile betting. The repeated renewals also allowed both DraftKings and FanDuel to overtake BetRivers — which was first to launch in the state by nearly two months ahead of DraftKings and three ahead of FanDuel — as the primary options for Illinois bettors, though all three operators have cleared $100 million in online handle every month from October through January.