This time around was a formality, but Illinois online sports betting registration has officially been extended until Jan. 9.
Since Gov. JB Pritzker closed Illinois casinos in November, which made his extension on executive order 2020-41 expected.
Online registration has been in place since late August due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That’s paved the way for Illinois to become the fastest-growing sports betting market in the US.
It isn’t known when casinos will reopen. Illinois COVID-19 positivity rates trend downward since hitting a peak in mid-November, but the state is still in the 10% range. In other words, don’t expect casinos in Illinois to reopen any time soon. The last time Pritzker ended a casino shutdown, Illinois’ positivity rate was 2.6%.
At least for as long as casinos are closed, mobile sports betting registration should remain in place. As a result, those in the industry expect some big numbers in future revenue reports.
Will new operators be able to take advantage?
There are three operators that we know of who plan to launch in Illinois in 2021.
Those are Unibet sportsbook, Bet MGM sportsbook and Barstool.
Unibet has the clearest path to launch with retail partner Argosy Casino Alton, and has applied for its master license. All it needs now is Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) approval.
We can also infer that BetMGM will target Par-A-Dice Casino once FanDuel switches its sportsbook license to its racetrack.
As for Barstool, it figures to partner with one of the Hollywood casinos that are owned by Penn National Gaming.
The question for that trio now is, will they be able to launch in time to capitalize on mobile registration? One can figure that it will be around through the winter, as the COVID-19 vaccine(s) should be available to the public by spring.
It’s also worth noting that in-person registration wasn’t meant to be permanent, and it shouldn’t be an issue by next football season anyway. But if these books can’t launch until spring, will they be caught in no man’s land? It’s possible.
Then again, considering how long mobile registration has already been in place due to the pandemic, perhaps a return to in-person isn’t in the cards at all. The cat may already be out of the bag, so to speak.
There are a lot of variables in play. But we can safely say that the sooner these sportsbooks launch, the better chance they’ll have to succeed.
Illinois sports betting is booming
Thanks in large part to mobile registration, the Illinois sports betting market is thriving.
The Land of Lincoln recorded $305.2 million in handle in September, ranking fourth in the US sports betting industry.
That number figures to soar in October, November and December if we’re following the trajectory of other states.
We should have October figures shortly, where we’ll likely see another monthly record.