Illinois has emerged as one of the biggest sports betting markets in the United States, and the state could soon be growing yet again. Lawmakers were back in session this week, and sports betting was one of the most important topics of discussion.
A bill was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly to remove the ban on betting on Illinois college teams. This has been a major debate over the last few years, and a signature from Governor JB Pritzker is all that is needed to make this change.
Even though this does feel like a big win for sports bettors in the state, it does still come with a major restriction. All of the wagers on Illinois college teams must be made in-person, and these betting markets will still be restricted at online sportsbooks.
Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman has been fighting back against this legislation, but lawmakers were able to get enough support to make this change. This new bill will be implemented on a trial basis, and it will be revisited in 2023.
Mobile Registration Also Returning
Another big change that was included in this new bill is that mobile registration will once again be allowed in the Land of Lincoln. Illinois and Nevada are the only two states in the US that currently require in-person registration when creating a sports betting account.
The official date for remote registration is set at March 5, 2022, which is still a long time for the sportsbook operators in the state to wait. Illinois did have remote registration for nearly a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that happened only after Governor Pritzker issued an executive order.
Retail Sportsbooks Not Seeing Action
The in-person registration requirement was put in place to give the state’s licensed casinos a boost in business. This was a good strategy in theory, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced action from Governor Pritzker.
Even as the in-person requirement has been in place since April, retail sportsbooks in the state still aren’t seeing a ton of action. Through the month of August, only four percent of all wagers in Illinois were placed at a retail location.
This number should increase over the last few months of 2021, but online will always be the most popular option for sports bettors.
Stadium Sportsbooks Coming Soon?
One trend that has started to emerge in the US sports betting industry is sportsbooks popping up at professional sports stadiums. Illinois approved this type of sports betting all the way back in 2019, but these sportsbooks have not yet been offered in the state.
When the initial law was passed, only those stadiums that had a capacity of at least 17,000 were eligible to receive a sports betting license. This was also amended this week as the Wintrust Arena was also granted approval to launch a retail sportsbook.
Wintrust Arena is the home of the Chicago Sky, and that team just won the 2021 WNBA Championship earlier this month.