Editor’s Note: This is a first-person account of the on-site sports betting registration requirement in Illinois. Gov. JB Pritzker has since suspended the executive order through Sept. 19.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has been fickle with registration for online sports betting over the past few months.
In regard to the on-site registration at DraftKings at Casino Queen that isn’t mandatory for the time being, it’s an experience that many should be happy to avoid.
While DraftKings had done all it could to make the experience quick and painless, that actually was part of the issue. After you’ve driven hours to reach the casino, the ease and speed of the process made you question whether it was worth your time.
A first-hand account of DraftKings on-site registration
Pulling into the parking lot at Casino Queen in East St. Louis, multiple signs notify you of how to register for DraftKings Sportsbook without leaving your vehicle.
The prescribed actions are:
- Enable Bluetooth connectivity on your device.
- Turn on WiFi on your device.
- Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app.
I spent about a minute pulling into three different locations in the parking lot; however, my iPhone didn’t detect a WiFi network connection from any spot. I used my data to download the app anyway.
Downloading the app took about 4 seconds. Upon opening the DraftKings app, I was prompted to enable location services on my device. I did so.
I already had an account with DraftKings for daily fantasy sports (DFS), so I logged in with those credentials after opening the app.
That took another 4 seconds.
The app then asked me to verify that I was in compliance with state laws, like the minimum age requirements and that I am not otherwise restricted from gambling in Illinois. I tapped on the appropriate places.
That took about another 10 seconds.
At that point, I was ready to make a deposit and then place wagers. So, to recap, the process and the time it took me to complete it was:
- Driving around unsuccessfully trying to pick up the WiFi signal: 60 seconds
- Downloading the app: 4 seconds
- Enabling location services: 1 second
- Logging in with my existing account: 4 seconds
- Other verifications: 10 seconds
- Total: 1:19
I never interacted with a single person or stepped foot inside the casino through the registration process. However, I wasn’t alone in the parking lot, either.
Talking to another registrant about his experience
There were eight other inhabited cars in the parking lot around 12:30 p.m. CST that Wednesday. Six of them had Missouri license plates, while the other two were registered in Illinois.
Reggie, 42, who lives in Florissant, MO, had made the drive to register for the online sportsbook as well. He learned online the day prior that he could register without leaving his car.
He said it took him about a half-hour of travel time. Like me, he said his Samsung phone couldn’t locate an open WiFi network; otherwise, he had no problems registering.
Reggie said that he did not have an existing account with DraftKings. He estimated that signing up on the sports betting app took him about a minute to do.
Because he lives near the state line, Reggie said he intends to make this trip again.
“I like that it’s all legal. I know some guys who got conned by a bookie. Yeah, driving a half-hour each way isn’t the most convenient thing, but I can get some barbecue while I’m down here, anyway. I just wanted to make sure I’m good to go before football starts — if it starts.”
Clark, 57, was also registering from the parking lot. The Pekin resident couldn’t locate a WiFi signal; however, his feedback on the experience was negative and positive.
“It’s great that I don’t have to go in the casino to do it. They’re probably doing their best in there, but to me, with the virus, it’s just not worth the risk.”
Then, Andrew said that he was headed to St. Louis, MO, for business. Since he was in the area, he decided to register for DraftKings online sportsbook.
Why in-person registration is a net loss
Andrew confirmed that he likely would not have registered for an online sports betting account if he had to physically enter the casino. He says it takes him about two-and-a-half hours to get to St. Louis from his home.
On the subject of whether he would have made the trip just to complete his registration, Andrew was pretty confident in his answer:
“I’m not driving five hours to spend 2 minutes in a casino parking lot. I’m not a big gambler, but that’s crazy. It doesn’t make much sense that I have to drive here to do something I can do at home.”
For almost the next month, however, Illinoisans won’t have to worry about that. Pritzker has again suspended the state’s in-person registration requirement, this time through at least Sept. 19.
There’s no telling whether Pritzker will allow his suspension to expire on Sept. 20 or not, so Illinoisans should take advantage of this window. If and when Pritzker lets his latest order expire again, the only choice for sports bettors in Illinois will be on-site registration.