Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has once again extended mobile sports betting registration, this time until at least April 3.
Online registration has been in place since late August 2020 due to COVID-19. The COVID-19 outlook continues to improve in Illinois, but Pritzker extended the window regardless.
While significant for existing Illinois sportsbooks, it’s even more crucial for potential new operators.
Online registration is critical in acquiring new customers, especially since Illinois’ current five online sportsbooks have been able to remotely register people for several months.
Here’s a deeper look into Pritzker’s decision.
COVID-19 situation looks much better in Illinois
Pritzker extended mobile registration despite the rapidly improving Illinois COVID-19 numbers.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate was a record low 2.4% as of Thursday.
For context, Pritzker re-instated in-person registration in late July, when the state positivity rate hovered around 3%.
He then reversed it in late August when the positivity rate rose to around 4%. Pritzker hasn’t changed course since.
This decision was always going to be particularly telling for the immediate future of online sports betting registration, considering that cases are relatively low in the Land of Lincoln right now.
There is likely no more lobbying for in-person registration now that we’ve had so many months of online sign-up; that wasn’t always the case.
Still, Pritzker took plenty of heat for his July decision, considering we were still in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
What does the future hold?
It’s hard to say with certainty, but provided new variants don’t take hold, the Illinois COVID-19 outlook could be even better in the next few months.
Illinois is currently in the middle of the pack in terms of vaccinating its residents. But President Joe Biden said this week that there will be enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of May.
While that’s great news, what would it mean for online registration?
In-person registration was always supposed to end by fall of 2021, and we are less than six months away from September.
Considering how long we’ve gone with mobile registration, it wouldn’t seem to make sense to go back now. But as always, the situation is fluid.
Extension crucial for Barstool
Barstool is aiming for a March launch in Illinois.
Had Pritzker brought back in-person registration, it would have been a disaster for Barstool Sportsbook bettors.
It will have plenty of retail sportsbook presence in Illinois, as it has partnered with Hollywood Casino Aurora, Hollywood Casino Joliet and Argosy Casino Alton.
Still, that retail presence doesn’t compare to being able to register and bet from your couch. Illinoisans consistently place over 90% of their wagers online each month.
With online registration in place, Barstool is in position to register plenty of new users. March Madness is approaching, and Illinoisans may be hungry for a new sportsbook launch — they haven’t had one since mid-September.
And with FanDuel officially transferring its sports betting license to its racetrack, we are also on BetMGM watch.
BetMGM may need another extension four weeks from now, but it’s conceivable that it could launch before then.