(The Center Square) – New laws in Illinois will affect sports wagering in one of the biggest markets in the country.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law several gambling measures, one of which will establish March 5 as a start date for remote registration.
Illinois currently has in-person registration, which has been in place after Pritzker allowed an executive order to lapse in April. He issued the executive order and repeatedly renewed it to suspend that provision and allow remote sign-up for most of last year. That allowed sportsbooks to gain some momentum after the first wagers were taken in March 2020, around the time the sports world came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Illinois has consistently placed third in the country in sports betting handle behind New Jersey and Nevada, but the registration change could alter that said Joe Boozell of PlayIllinois.com.
“The numbers are still big, but you’d expect them to grow more than they have and I think once we have online registration back it wouldn’t surprise me to see Illinois jump Nevada each month,” Boozell said.
It was a record-breaking October for Illinois sportsbooks. Retail and online sportsbooks combined to take in over $840 million in wagers, easily topping the record of $633 million set in March. Only New Jersey and Nevada took in more wagers.
October mobile sports betting handle was $803.4 million, up 41% from September. Mobile was 95% of the total handle in Illinois.
Sportsbooks in Illinois profited $48.3 million, resulting in $7.9 million in tax revenue for the state.
Bettors now will be allowed to place wagers on in-state college teams, but not on individual athlete performances or in-game action. The bets can’t be placed online and must be made in-person at state-licensed sportsbooks.
“In the short term I actually don’t think it is that big of a deal because how many people are actually going to casinos or horse tracks to place a bet,” Boozell said.
Athletic directors at the state’s Division 1 schools opposed the measure last spring when lawmakers were debating the issue, citing concerns about players’ safety and mental health.
The bill signed by the governor also makes Winrust Arena, home to the WNBA champions Chicago Sky, eligible to apply for a sports facility sports wagering license, raising the number of eligible sports facilities in Chicago to five.