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Did Pritzker Just End Illinois Sports Betting Market’s Rise To The Top?

Gov. JB Pritzker’s pandemic-induced suspension of in-person registration for Illinois sports betting fueled massive growth in the past few months.

Yet just as quickly as the market grew is how fast it might stall after his confusing decision today.

It appears Pritzker did not renew his suspension of in-person signup for IL sports betting accounts. The governor’s monthly executive orders do not include sports betting, which appears to restore the requirement to travel to a casino to sign up for online sports betting in Illinois.

In the past week, Illinois saw its seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases rise from 1,964 to 2,630.

Pritzker starts, stops, starts, stops

The governor’s waffling on remote signup started last summer.

Illinois legislators included an 18-month in-person signup period for online sports betting accounts in their 2019 law. The provision tacitly targeted DraftKings and FanDuel while favoring politically connected Rivers, with roots stretching back to daily fantasy sports battles from years ago.

At the time, neither DraftKings nor FanDuel had a retail presence in Illinois, though both acquired one in 2020.

Pritzker closed state casinos during the first pandemic surge last summer, though, making it impossible to sign up.  On June 8, he suspended the remote provision but suddenly reversed course on July 26.

Following an outcry from Illinois bettors, Pritzker again suspended the requirement on August 21. Since that date, he renewed the order every month until today.

Illinois sports betting soars while remote

If the order is not reinstituted, Illinois sportsbooks must wait until January 2022 to take remote signups again. The Illinois sports betting market doubtlessly grew by tens of thousands of accounts during the suspension, though, giving books a sizable customer base to mine during another in-person period.

Sportsbooks in the Land of Lincoln took more than $581 million in wagers in January 2021. That represented another monthly record for sports betting in Illinois and placed the state into the nation’s top three in handle.

Operators produced $49.4 million in revenue, roughly an 8.5% hold. The state generated $7.2 million in taxes.

That compares quite favorably to the first full month of mobile IL sports betting with one book and in-person signup. In July 2020, IL sportsbooks took $52.5 million in total handle — $48.5 million of which came from Rivers.

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