Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has recalled an order that allowed online registration for Illinois sports bettors. According to a statement from the governor’s office, the suspension of in person sports betting registration is “no longer needed”:
“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.”
Giving Land-Based Casinos a Head Start
The Illinois sports betting law, signed by Pritzker in 2019, was written with the in-person registration requirement in order to give land-based casinos a headstart over online gambling giants FanDuel and DraftKings. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, Pritzker issued an executive order allowing Illinoisans to register online because brick and mortar casinos were ordered closed.
When these casinos re-opened in July, Priztker ended the provision. However, after an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state, he once again allowed online registration. Last Sunday, the governor’s office issued a statement saying online registration is “no longer needed” and that in-person registration will be required before one can place a sports bet in Illinois.
Putting the Brakes on Illinois Sports Betting
Industry analysts were quick to say that Pritkzer’s new order “puts the brakes” on a fast growing Illinois sports betting market that could’ve easily make it as among the Top 5 in the industry. Legal Illinois sports betting fetched more than $1.6B in bets since its launch in March 2020. These bets have given the state more than $28M in tax revenues.
DraftKings and Fanduel, which held 72% of the total market during the month of January, were quick to tie up with casinos and racetracks to avoid delay. Although this latest move by the governor will not knock off either FanDuel or DraftKings from their lofty places, their inability to register new users could hinder their growth.
A Premature Move?
However, Pritzker’s move may be a premature one as COVID-19 cases are currently on the rise in Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Health, the number of new cases daily has reached 2,000 for every day since March 24th, with the number of hospitalization cases also increasing.
Officials in Cook County, the largest in the state, said that they have over 600 new cases of COVID-19 in their jurisdiction alone, According to Cook health official Dr. Rachel Rubin, the state could be entering another phase of a “surge” in COVID-19 cases.