Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker extended remote registration for sports betting, as the Secretary of State filed Executive Order 2020-55 on Friday which included the governor’s renewal of Executive Order 2020-41 through Oct. 17. That means the in-person registration provision to access mobile sports wagering in the gaming expansion bill he signed into law last year remains suspended, and consumers can register for accounts via mobile device or online.
Bill Status of EO2055 101st General Assembly
Short Description: COVID-19-REISSUE EXEC ORDERS
Date Chamber Action 9/18/2020 Senate Filed with the Secretary of State
Synopsis As Introduced
Contains a preamble concerning COVID-19 and other matters. Pursuant to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act and consistent with the powers in public health laws, orders the following, effective September 18, 2020: Executive Orders 2020-20, 2020-21, 2020-23, 2020-24, 2020-27, 2020-29, 2020-34, 2020-36, 2020-41, 2020-42, 2020-45, 2020-47, 2020-50, 2020-51, and 2020-54 are reissued in their entirety and extended through October 17, 2020; Executive Orders 2020-03, 2020-04, 2020-07, 2020-08, 2020-09, 2020-11, 2020-12, 2020-15, 2020-16, 2020-17, 2020-22, 2020-25, 2020-26, 2020-28, 2020-30, 2020-35, and 2020-43 are reissued and extended as set forth in this Executive Order; Executive Order 2020-53 is rescinded. Provides that the provisions of this Executive Order are severable.
Pritzker issued the original executive order June 4 as a means of helping the nascent sports wagering market during the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed it June 26 through Executive Order 2020-48, which lapsed July 26. Pritzker then restored Executive Order 2020-41 on Aug. 19 through Executive Order 2020-52, which is set to expire Saturday.
The renewal is not surprising considering the promising early returns from the initial sports betting revenue numbers released by the Illinois Gaming Board on Wednesday. The report revealed a cumulative handle of $61.8 million for the months of March, June, and July, during which only Rivers Casino and Argosy Casino Alton were live.
The July online handle of $47.7 million came exclusively from BetRivers, which launched June 18 and was the only mobile sportsbook in operation in Illinois until DraftKings launched Aug. 5. There is clear momentum for mobile sports wagering — IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter reported there were more than 230,000 online accounts registered in the state at Thursday’s board meeting.
Who benefits from extended remote registration?
More than 230K mobile sports betting accounts in Illinois.
Have to wonder how many accounts and how much missed revenue if we still had in-person registration.
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) September 17, 2020
Three of the five mobile sportsbooks – FanDuel, PointsBet, and William Hill – all launched after Pritzker restored Executive Order 2020-41 last month, with PointsBet and William Hill coming online in the past week. The additional 30 days gives the three – as well as BetRivers and DraftKings – the chance to continue to advertise on television and make inroads into Chicago, the third largest city in the United States.
The remote registration keeps Chicago as a battleground of sorts, given DraftKings at Casino Queen is a five-hour drive across the state from the Illinois-Missouri border and Par-A-Dice, where FanDuel has a retail sportsbook in East Peoria, is a three-hour trip from the Windy City. PointsBet will have a Chicago presence when its retail operations commence through its partner Hawthorne Race Course and the three off-track betting facilities it will utilize in Prospect Heights, Oakbrook Terrace, and Crestwood as allowed by the gaming expansion bill Pritzker signed into law in June 2019.
Rivers Casino, which operates BetRivers, is on the outskirts of the city in Des Plaines, while William Hill’s retail sportsbook at Grand Victoria Casino is further west in Elgin, approximately an hour’s drive from Chicago. Five of the state’s 10 casinos with retail sportsbooks are operating at the 50% capacity permitted by IGB protocols when they re-opened July 1, but Casino Queen and Argosy Casino Alton are operating at only 25% with reduced hours due to expanded COVID-19 mitigation measures in the southwestern portion of Illinois.
If the early returns are any indication, the state will also benefit from at least one more month of remote registration being available. The 15% tax rate on sports wagering revenues generated approximately $600,000 in revenue for the state for the first three months reported, and that should climb higher in rapid fashion given there were more sports offerings in August, the start of both the NFL and college football in September, and more sportsbooks available for bettors.
A refresher on the need for the executive order
The in-person registration provision was controversial even before Pritzker signed the gaming-expansion bill into law in June 2019. When the law was being crafted, Rush Street Gaming owner Neil Bluhm lobbied lawmakers to penalize both DraftKings and FanDuel for operating daily fantasy sports before and after a 2015 opinion by then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan ruled it was illegal.
Bluhm asked for a three-year waiting period before stand-alone online sports betting platforms could go live, but that was reduced to 18 months during the legislative process after Pritzker personally entered the conversation, and the two sides aired disparaging ads in the Chicago market while the bill was being negotiated.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel entered the market with retail partners rather than wait 18 months to be stand-alone operations. The agreements saved them money since an online-only sports betting license in Illinois cost $20 million compared to the $10 million for a retail one.
DraftKings entered a market-share agreement with Casino Queen in late June. FanDuel co-branded with Par-A-Dice, but it originally sought entry into Illinois via Fairmount Park racetrack, whose sports betting license application is still under review by the IGB. The expectation is FanDuel will have retail sportsbooks at both venues, with Fairmount Park applying for a racino license in similar fashion to Hawthorne.
DraftKings’ summer push via email to its users to lobby Pritzker and Illinois state representatives to restore the Executive Order suspending the in-person registration provision was a key factor in the governor restoring 2020-41 last month. FanDuel has recently picked up the torch with regards to the email movement, lobbying Pritzker and state legislators to make the suspension permanent, also aligning with the group Fans For the Future.