Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on Thursday signed an executive order that could pave the way for earlier than expected start of online sports betting in the state.
Gov. Pritzker last year signed into order a sweeping gambling reform that included the legalization of sports betting and the expansion of Illinois’ land-based casino industry, among other things.
Sports betting officially launched at Rivers Casino Des Plaines on March 9. However, the gambling venue and its retail sportsbook closed a week later, just as the rest of the state’s casinos and other non-essential businesses, to help curb the advance of the dangerous coronavirus.
No reopening date for Illinois’ casinos has been announced yet by Gov. Pritzker.
The Sports Betting Order
Earlier this week, the state’s top official signed an executive order that allows state bettors to register for digital sports betting remotely. Last year’s gambling expansion bill required bettors to register their sports gambling accounts in person at casinos, racetracks, or sports facilities before they could place wagers online and through mobile apps.
The latest order temporarily removes that original in-person registration requirement. That order will remain in effect until the Illinois Gaming Board issues the first master sports betting license. Currently, Rivers Casino Des Plaines and Argosy Casino Alton are the only two gambling properties to have been granted temporary operating permits by the regulator.
When Will Mobile Sports Betting Launch in Illinois?
Gov. Pritzker’s recently signed order could speed the much-anticipated launch of mobile betting in the state. However, a timeline for the rollout of digital wagering is yet to be provided by state regulators and licensed operators.
As mentioned above, only two of the seven land-based casinos and three racetracks that can apply for wagering licenses from the Illinois Gaming Board hold such licenses, and these licenses are only temporary.
Neither Rivers Casino nor Argosy Casino had applied for master permits as of Friday afternoon. Spokesmen for the two properties have declined to comment on the matter.
The Illinois Gaming Board is set to hold a virtual meeting on June 11 and more details will probably be revealed during it. Gaming Board members have not met since January 30.
The regulator’s administrator, Marcus Fruchter, said Friday that Gov. Pritzker’s order “allows Illinois sports fans to temporarily place wagers from the safety of their own home, protecting a revenue source that is critical as the state begins to recover from the damaging financial impact of Covid-19.”
While the launch of mobile betting is still surrounded by big unknowns, casino industry leaders still welcomed Gov. Pritzker’s order. Tom Swoik, Executive Director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, said that “it makes sense with everything going on” and that “if we’d had online wagering this whole time, we could’ve still been making a little money and the state could’ve been making a little money, at least.”
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