Illinois Sportsbook Mobile Registration Begins March 5

A global pandemic wreaked havoc on the international economy, but it couldn’t curb the growth of Illinois’ young legal sports betting industry.

Two years ago, as news of a troubling new virus spread across the world, Blackhawks announcer Eddie Olczyk put one hundred dollars on the White Sox to win the pennant – and put the State on the chart as 15th in the country to bet. legally in sports.

Five COVID-19 surges and nearly $9 billion in wagers later, Illinois is considered one of the top four sports betting markets in the nation, with players depositing an average of $156 per second.

And it’s about to get easier for more residents to get in on the action, as a change to the gambling law comes into effect on Saturday allowing people to sign up for sports betting accounts on their phone instead of going to a casino or racetrack.

When Governor JB Pritzker signed the law introducing sports betting to Illinois in 2019, potential players were required to register with land-based casino sportsbooks, which could then offer the types of mobile betting apps where over 95% of bets are placed. .

The law was drafted to give casinos an edge over online betting companies such as DraftKings and Fanduel that previously operated in a legal gray area of ​​Illinois for years.

This so-called ‘penalty’ period for online giants was supposed to last 18 months until they could obtain a state gambling license – but both companies walked through an out-of-the-box loophole within six months following the launch of Illinois Sportsbook on March 9, 2020.

By making branding deals with existing physical sportsbooks that already had licenses, they were able to start taking bets after putting their name on the “DraftKings at Casino Queen” in East St. Louis and “FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing”. in Collinsville.

Blackhawks announcer Eddie Olczyk makes Illinois’ first sportsbook bet and bets $100 on his hometown White Sox to win the American League pennant at odds of 16 to 1 at BetRivers Sportsbook at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Monday morning, March 9, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

COVID-19 has made their transition even easier. Faced with a huge pandemic budget shortfall and desperate for revenue, Pritzker suspended the in-person registration requirement, allowing people to register and bet from anywhere they could find a cellular signal.

The governor allowed this for about 10 months, but the in-person requirement has been back since last April.

The original law was fuzzy on when the requirement would expire, so lawmakers passed a bill last fall marking March 5 as the expiry date — and keeping mobile check-in in place. for real.

The back and forth created some confusion for players, but it did little to hinder growth. The statewide handle, or total amount of money wagered, eclipsed $8.9 billion from launch through December 2021, the most recent month for which data is available from the Illinois Gaming Board.

“Illinois has had one of the weirdest sports betting deployments in the country, but it’s also one of the most successful markets,” said Joe Boozell, industry analyst at PlayIllinois.com. “Illinois is so populated and has such rabid fanbases, it’s a recipe for a robust market.”

So far, sports betting has come out on top with nearly $651 million in revenue, generating $98 million in tax revenue for the state, plus another $7.3 million for Cook County.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, the Riverside Democrat who is leading the sports betting legislation, said “the law continues to generate millions of dollars for new universities, schools and libraries for our citizens and with a fully networked integrated, the numbers will only get better.”

The state’s all-time $8.9 billion handful would equate to about $903 wagered for each adult resident, or nearly $13.5 million wagered every day, or $9,341 per minute.

Of course, the bets are not distributed so evenly across the schedule. Nearly $61 million has been wagered on the Super Bowl in Illinois alone.

With March Madness launching on March 13, Boozell said the state’s move to remote registration could have “a substantial effect” – although betting on Illinois college teams is still not allowed. than in person.

“It makes things much easier for more casual fans,” he said.

It could also create more temptation for people struggling with gambling addiction.

Anita Pindiur, executive director of the Way Back Inn drug rehabilitation center in Maywood, said she has seen an increase of around 30% in the number of people seeking help for a gambling disorder since the start of the pandemic – most people in treatment citing sports betting as a problem.

Pindiur said the in-person registration requirement was “helpful because it’s an extra step people have to take to get there.

“But does it stop people who have a problem? No,” she said.

Pindiur even urges casual gamers to set financial limits and time limits on apps.

The Way Back Inn offers free assessments and can be reached toll free at (866) 993-6503. For more information on problem gambling support, call 1-800-GAMBLER or text “ILGAMB” to 53342.

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