As Illinois casinos enter their second week under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s closure order, signs point to the 10 gaming properties lobbying lawmakers for some more changes to state laws.
Tom Swoik, the executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, told Casino.org in an email Thursday that the casinos will support two measures that would benefit the industry in the state. One is legalizing iGaming. The other is doing away with the in-person registration requirement for mobile sports betting accounts.
Mobile slots and table games would allow casinos to still generate revenue even as emergencies such as pandemics and disasters force their closure. IGaming is currently operating in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Michigan lawmakers approved iGaming last year. Officials there expected it to launch early next year.
Indiana lawmakers also will likely consider legalizing iGaming when they meet for the 2021 session early next year.
Of the four iGaming states, Pennsylvania may serve as the best comparison for Illinois, as the states’ population totals are similar. Through October, Pennsylvania has reported more than $1 billion wagered on mobile slots for six straight months. That’s led to nearly $235 million in gross revenues and $79.8 million in state tax funding over that time.
Pennsylvania’s online table gaming topped $1 billion in handle for the first time in October. Betting apps reported more than $19.4 million in revenue last month, with more than $2.7 million in taxes raised.
While casinos will back mobile gaming, it’s likely the video gaming industry would oppose such efforts unless they receive concessions or are allowed to get involved as well. Illinois had 37,459 machines in 7,350 locations in October – including cafes, truck stops, and convenience stores – according to the Illinois Gaming Board.
Sports Betting Taking Off in Illinois
We’re still awaiting the October totals for Illinois sports betting. But if national trends carry over in the Land of Lincoln, then it should be good news.
The sportsbooks in the state generated a handle of $305.2 million in September, the fourth-highest handle of any state in the country. Pennsylvania ranked third in September, with a then-record $462.8 million handle. The Keystone State followed that up with an October handle totaling $525.8 million.
September was the first month for Illinois where both FanDuel and DraftKings had a full month of availability online.
Will Lawmakers Eliminate Registration Requirement?
Earlier this month, Pritzker extended an emergency order that allows Illinois sports bettors to register for mobile applications online. That order will come up again for renewal in mid-December. If casinos remain closed or under restricted hours of operation, chances are good Pritzker will extend it once again.
The waiver has been credited for helping increase the sports betting handle, especially for DraftKings and FanDuel. Without the waiver, customers who would have wanted an account with either app would have had to drive to the DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis or Par-A-Dice Casino, FanDuel’s partner, in East Peoria, before they could bet online with either account.
DraftKings Cofounder and CEO Jason Robins said the online waiver allowed Illinois to become DraftKings’ second-biggest state, behind New Jersey.
While Pritzker can waive the requirement for 30 days and then extend the waiver, he can not nullify it completely. That requires legislative approval.
Hopefully, the legislature will consider eliminating the requirement,” Swoik told Casino.org.
The 2019 Illinois gaming law that allowed sports betting established the in-person registration requirement for mobile accounts. The law also was designed to keep “online only” sportsbooks out at least until 2022. However, DraftKings and FanDuel established partnerships with casinos to avoid the wait.
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