With the overturn of the PASPA legislation in 2018, the gambling scene in the US began to have a brand new look. More states began legalizing one or more forms of gambling, allowing their residents to legally enjoy casino games, sports, or horse racing betting online. If you want to know more about the states that have legalized sports betting, you can take a look at the general report about the US regulation.
Illinois also joined the number of states that have legalized offline and online sports betting. Following the revocation of PASPA, the Land of Lincoln legalized sports betting on June 3rd, 2019. This result came after a long process of persuasion, with lawmakers finally agreeing on the legalization of sports betting. This, however, did not mean smooth sailing for all punters in the Prairie State as there were some factors that still make legal betting somewhat difficult.
What Does Sports Betting Legalization Means for Residents of Illinois?
The first legal bet in the state of Illinois was placed nine months after the SB 960 bill was passed. It was made at Rivers Casino which is owned by Rush Street Interactive. Ironically, this was on the eve of the upcoming Covid-19 shutdowns.
As the Illinois lawmakers voted for the legalization of interactive sports betting, many land-based casinos were concerned that their market share will drop drastically and they will be replaced by online casinos and sportsbooks. To refute such concerns, the bill required punters to visit the brick-and-mortar casinos to register with the respective online platform they operate.
This requirement posed an issue for online bookmakers like DraftKings and FanDuel, forcing them to team up with local casinos and racetracks to be able to operate in the state of Illinois. While this seemed like a proper solution to the problem, many bettors would still find it inconvenient to bet with FanDuel or DraftKings. The reason for that is that the casinos and racetracks they have partnered with are located downstate, far from Chicago and most of the punters in the Corn State.
How Will the Online Betting Scene in Illinois Change?
With the surge of Covid-19 cases, the freshly legalized sports betting scene in Illinois went through numerous changes. In June of last year, as sporting events were resumed across the globe, online sports betting launched in the Corn State. However, in July, when brick-and-mortar casinos reopened, Democratic Governor Jay Robert Pritzker, the in-person restriction came into effect.
In late August, he changed his mind and lifted the restriction as Covid-19 cases started rising again and working hours for state land-based casinos were reduced. Currently, residents of Illinois who wish to participate in online betting but do not have registration in any of the apps that allow such activity must travel to the respective brick-and-mortar casino to register in person. This step that many find burdensome will be in effect until the Illinois gambling laws
change and a mobile-only betting operator is selected. The earliest this could happen, however, is in 2022.
Statistics show the concerns of land-based casinos and racetracks might not be groundless. During the period when Pritzker allowed the provision of mobile sports betting, operators like DraftKings and FanDuel overtook the state’s gambling market.
The combined market share of the two bookmakers for January was estimated to be 72%. Meanwhile, when the in-person restrictions were in effect, the market presence was more evenly spread. It is only natural that FanDuel and DraftKings are not happy about the current status of mobile sports betting in Illinois as they have not partnered with any major land-based casinos in the state.
Some believe that these restrictions are affecting not only these bookmakers but also the overall growth of the gambling sector in the state. As bettors find it difficult to register with the two major sportsbooks and in-person betting has decreased during the pandemic period, the gambling scene in Illinois is having a difficult time developing.
Will the Gambling Market in Illinois Change?
The current in-person requirement is definitely an obstacle for DraftKings and FanDuel but it is currently still in effect for punters in Illinois. After all, the two sportsbooks enjoy quite the growth as more states legalize mobile sports betting. This is why they try to attract more new members whenever the in-person restrictions in Illinois are being lifted.
By offering generous incentives, the two bookmakers are trying to compensate for the period when the in-person registration is in effect. According to Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gambling Association, the demand for mobile-only gambling is quite high and will likely become even higher in the upcoming months.
As more punters in Illinois wish to be able to easily register with interactive sportsbooks, there will most likely be a change in the market, lifting the in-person restriction. Major Chicago casinos will probably also join forces with sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel to allow bettors easier mobile betting. This, however, will most likely happen in 2022 or even later in time.