Illinois to Require In-Person Sports Betting Registration AgainLegal
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker made a somewhat odd decision recently: He halted online registration for sportsbooks in the state.
In June of last year, the governor temporarily lifted a requirement that allowed people to register for sportsbook accounts online, rather than in-person. But suddenly, this past weekend, Pritzker removed the exemption.
The move confused some people, because the United States certainly isn't out of the woods yet from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has some lawmakers questioning whether the state should change its rules permanently.
As Steve McClure, a Republican state Senator told local ABC News Channel 20:
"We still aren't out of the pandemic. So, it just kind of leaves me scratching my head as to why you would let the executive order expire."
Illinois Requires In-Person Registration
When Illinois enacted sports betting laws in 2019, it required all new sportsbook registrations to happen in person, at a retail sportsbook. Part of the reason for this was to help casinos drive foot traffic through their doors.
Some people may even argue that in-person registration protects security, and reduces the risk of fraud.
When the coronavirus pandemic began, though, businesses across all industries had to adjust how they operate. In Illinois, the governor passes an executive order that temporarily allowed new sportsbook registrations to happen online.
Pritzker first issued that order in June 2020. It required him to renew the order every month, which he did until he suddenly decided to let it expire over the weekend. That then forced new sportsbook registrations to happen in-person again, even as the pandemic still rages on.
Some lawmakers commented that had the in-person registration not been included in the original 2019 bill, then sports gambling probably never would've been approved in Illinois.
Steve Stadelman, a state Senator who was a sponsor of that bill, said:
"Sports betting never would have been legalized, I believe, back in 2019 if that in-person registration was not a part of it."
Times Do Change, Though
With the pandemic, life had to adjust in all forms. For sports betting, it showed the power of online apps and online registration.
The fact that Illinois offered mobile sports betting helped it propel to fourth in the United States in terms of money wagered on sports. Other states with mobile sports gambling, such as New Jersey, reached new heights during the pandemic as well.
With such amazing success in their state, it's hard to fathom why Illinois would want to stick with their in-person registration requirement. Not only has online registration resulted in big business, but it's given people a legal way to place sports bets from the comfort of their own home.
Some lawmakers worry that if Illinois takes away online registration, people may instead turn to illegal apps so that they don't have to travel to a retail sportsbook location. After all, Illinois is a big state, and not everyone has easy access to go to an approved casino location.
Even Stadelman, who said casinos need that foot traffic, said that they may have to re-look at the sports betting law as it was originally written. He said:
"It's worth having another discussion. In light of what has happened this year during the pandemic and the fact that online registration has been in place already, I think it is worth having another discussion in Springfield."
All States Should Allow Online Registration
Every state in the U.S. has the right to set their own rules when it comes to sports betting. And every state has its reasons for setting different rules and regulations for their own legislation.
For now, we won't try to argue whether one state has better policies than another. However, it does seem to make logical sense that if a state allows online sports betting, they should allow online registration, too.
In Illinois, it seems that the only reasoning they give for forcing in-person registration is to help casinos with foot traffic. They aren't concerned with security or safety.
It would be one thing to force in-person registration if a state didn't allow online sports wagering at all. But, there's really no logical reason why they should prevent online registration if they allow online wagering.
It's just a way to make wagering convenient, which is a main reason why Illinois' sports betting has been so successful so quickly.