An amendment to HB 3136 that includes a March 5 expiration date for in-person registration for mobile access overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly Thursday night toward the end of the three-day veto session. The Senate approved the bill 44-12 before it moved to concurrence in the House, where it was approved 100-11 with one state representative voting present.
The March 5 expiration date is neutral in the sense it neither moves up nor extends the timeline from when the Illinois Gaming Board issued its first retail sports wagering licenses to when it could issue the first of the three online-only licenses available in the state. Because the IGB was given the discretion to extend the 90-day timeline for due diligence reviewing potential online-only applications in the gaming expansion bill Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law in June 2019, the date-certain language was added.
The application window for a $20 million mobile-only license opens in approximately six weeks.
WNBA team can apply for license
The bill also contains much of the same language that covered many aspects of gaming in the state found in SB 521, with Reps. Bob Rita and Mike Zalewski doing much of the heavy lifting. That bill passed the House overwhelmingly in late May during the regular General Assembly but failed to achieve concurrence in the Senate.
The state legislature now has 30 days to send HB 3136 to the governor’s office, and Pritzker has 60 days upon receiving the bill to sign it into law. There is no apparent reason that Pritzker, who lifted the in-person registration requirement during the height of COVID-related restrictions, would not sign the bill.
The end of in-person registration is one of three key sports betting changes in the bill. Bettors in Illinois will now also be permitted to wager on in-state college and university sports teams, but are limited to pre-game wagers that must be made in person at retail sportsbooks. That provision will sunset in 2023.
It also makes Wintrust Arena — home of the recently crowned WNBA champion Chicago Sky — eligible to apply for a sports wagering license as a facility. Only venues with seating capacity of 17,000 or more were previously eligible in the 2019 bill. Wintrust Arena seats just over 10,000.
Illinois among top three U.S. markets
Illinois quickly established itself as a top-three sports betting market nationally, in large part because the in-person provision of the gaming expansion bill was repeatedly suspended by Pritzker via Executive Order 2020-41 for much of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic shortly after the state began accepting wagers in March of that year.
Top 10 #SportsBetting Handle by state, 2021 YTD (Sept in CAPS):
— Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73) October 27, 2021
The law reverted to full effect in early April when the governor opted not to renew the executive order for a 10th time, but the cumulative effect of consistent accessibility to mobile registration helped Illinois generate more than $4 billion in handle through the first eight months of 2021. It will also become the fourth state — joining New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — to surpass $6 billion in all-time handle when the IGB publishes its revenue report for September.