Illinois is permanently ending its in-person registration requirement for online sports betting. The amendment to the state’s sports betting law takes effect just in time for the start of March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament which is one of the top betting events of the year.
In-Person Registration Was Waived For 10 Months in 2020
Illinois legalized sports betting in 2019 as part of its gambling expansion. However, like many states, its law required new customers to sign-up at brick and mortar sports betting shops so that they can place bets online. That proved to be an issue when the first sportsbook opened at Rivers Casino Des Plaines in March 2020 and Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order just days later while closing the sportsbook due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The in-person requirement was eventually waived for 10 months during at the height of the pandemic but was reinstated after the COVID-19 restrictions went down along with the number of cases in the state. But with officials realizing how huge the impact of waving the requirement was, they have permanently eliminated it beginning March 5th, in time for March Madness, which could boost the state’s sports betting total to $1 billion this month.
Legal sports betting is now available in 30 states with 20 offering online sports betting. New York was the latest state to offer mobile wagering after launching last January. Last year, the total betting handle for the entire U.S. sports betting industry was $57.22 billion which was up by 165% from the 2020 figures.
Seven Online Sports Betting Operators
Illinois has nine total retail sportsbooks, seven of which offer online sports betting. The 10-month waiver enabled sports betting giants FanDuel and DraftKings to become the top sportsbooks in the state with their heavy online advertising. The latest to join the fray is BtMGM which launched last week and went live last Saturday.
FanDuel, which is associated with Fairmount Park horse racing track near St. Louis, was the top sportsbook last year with $205 million in adjusted receipts last year. Meanwhile, DraftKings was second with close to $138 million in adjusted gross receipts and is partners with Casino Queen in east St. Louis.
The other online sportsbooks in the state are BetRivers, PointsBet, which is partnered with Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney; Caesars Sportsbook at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin; and Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Aurora.