Pritzker Maintains Stay-At-Home Message, Extends Mobile Sports Betting Registration

Posted By Joe Boozell on November 14, 2020 - Last Updated on March 3, 2021

In an expected move, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker once again extended his executive order allowing for mobile sports betting registration.

Executive order 2020-41 remains in place until at least Dec. 12. And based on the latest COVID-19 case numbers topping 15,000 in Illinois, it appears likely that the extension will run into the new year.

The 2019 Illinois Gambling Act states that people must visit a sports betting operator’s retail facility to sign up for at least the first 18 months that the operator is live. But COVID-19 nipped that plan in the bud pretty quickly. The in-person registration mandate hasn’t been in effect since August, which has been a boon to the Illinois sports betting market.

Will new operators take advantage of Pritzker order?

Surprisingly, the last online sportsbook to launch was William Hill in mid-September. Since then, it’s been crickets in the Land of Lincoln.

We know of at least three operators who would like to join the fray: Unibet, Barstool and BetMGM sportsbooks.

Unibet told PlayIllinois in October that it plans to launch in Illinois in early 2021, pending Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) approval. It has market access with Argosy Casino Alton.

Barstool is reportedly also targeting an early 2021 Illinois launch. It is likely to pair up with one of, or both Hollywood casinos for market access.

BetMGM’s plans remain a mystery, but it has applied for an Illinois sports betting license. It doesn’t have a retail partner yet, though, and options are slim on that front.

Pritzker’s continued willingness to extend mobile registration would seem like an opportunity for new Illinois sportsbooks to launch. But they weren’t expecting months of online registration capability in late 2020, and the IGB approval process remains a hurdle.

Illinois COVID-19 outlook

Similar to the US as a whole, Illinois has set daily records of COVID-19 cases in November.

Positivity rates are also the highest they’ve been since May, and daily death counts are as high as they’ve ever been since June. The state has recently imposed further restrictions on casinos, as well. Capacity is now limited to 25% at eight of Illinois’ 10 casinos.

Capacity has been 50% at most casinos during the pandemic. Casinos are also now dealing with reduced hours, as most are only open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Indoor food and beverage services are also suspended. The policy mirrors the latest Pritzker orders as a whole, with indoor dining services closed in the Prairie State as of Nov. 4.

Essentially, it would be unwise to force people to go to a casino to sign up for sports betting registration based on the current public health situation.

That’s been true for a while, but especially as of this writing.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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