In-person Sports Betting Registration Could be Nixed in Illinois

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When Illinois first decided to embrace legal sports betting, it decided that forcing some people to drive hundreds of miles to register for an online sports betting account was completely logical. It didn’t take long for the state to realize the flaw in its plan, as COVID-19 kept everyone locked down with nowhere to run. Governor JB Pritzker waved his magic wand during the pandemic and authorized online registrations, but the spell only had limited effectiveness. As soon as it wore off, Illinois sports bettors were once again forced to visit an authorized land-based gaming property to register. A new bill looks to bring back the magic but, this time, make it permanent.

Illinois Might Approve Online Sports Betting Registrations

When Illinois began allowing sports bettors to register online during the COVID-19 pandemic, something strange – and not entirely unexpected by anyone other than Illinois lawmakers – happened. The state began seeing an increase in sports betting revenue. That has now become part of the platform of a new initiative that would make the in-person registration requirement disappear completely. An amendment has been presented to the Illinois General Assembly that would nix the requirement, regardless of what happens with the state’s mobile-only sports betting segment.

The amendment was presented yesterday and is sponsored by Senator Bill Cunningham. It would become a permanent part of House Bill 3136 (HB3136), if approved, stripping away the current language that makes it difficult for a lot of sports betting enthusiasts to participate in their favorite activity. Should the amendment survive, according to the wording in the amendment, in-person registration would no longer be a requirement as of March 5 of next year – too late for the Super Bowl, but just in time for March Madness.

Illinois is moving toward the launch of online-only sportsbooks, to which the end of the obligatory in-person registration had been attached. However, there is still no clear timeline for the introduction of the new segment, as the state won’t even begin accepting applications until December. Then, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has 90 days to issue the licenses or, if it prefers, to grant itself an extension. By establishing March 5 as the cut-off date, the IGB’s actions or inactions become irrelevant.

Illinois May Ease Stance on College Wagers

Should the amendment survive past today, the end of the veto session for the General Assembly, sports bettors in the state can start to get ready for access to more betting options. There is a possibility – albeit a remote one – that, through the legislative rider, in-state college and university sports would no longer be completely banned from seeing wagers. Instead, pre-game bets would be accepted, but only at retail sportsbooks.

The amendment also carries an additional change to the state’s sports betting laws that could benefit WNBA bettors. Wintrust Arena, home of the league’s Chicago Sky, would legally be allowed to host a sportsbook. The state’s Mohegan Sun Arena, however, would still be out of the picture for obvious reasons.

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