Illinois Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Mobile Sportsbook Registration, Wagering On In-State College Teams

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The Illinois House and Senate have passed an amendment to HB 3136 to eliminate Illinois’ in-person registration requirement for sportsbooks. Soon, Illinois bettors won’t have to travel to casinos or horse tracks to create sportsbook accounts. They’ll be able to register from their phones instead.

Should Governor J.B. Pritzker sign the bill, as expected, the in-person registration requirement would end March 5, 2022, in time for the NCAA Tournament, at the latest.

However, if Illinois awards a mobile-only sports betting license before March 5, then bettors could begin mobile registration early. The Illinois Gaming Board opened the application process for mobile-only licenses earlier this year.

While Illinois‘ sports betting law requires in-person registration, Pritzker signed an executive order allowing mobile registration in June 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. He renewed that executive order seven times before letting it expire in April 2021, when Illinois bettors had to return to in-person registration as the state returned to normal. 

With this amendment, Illinois bettors will have permanent access to mobile sportsbook registration.  

Potential Revenue Impacts 

Mobile sports betting is a critical part of any healthy sports betting industry. From May 2020 to May 2021, 96% of Illinois wagers were made online, compared to 4% at retail sportsbooks.

Beyond mobile being bettors’ preferred method of betting, online registration makes it easier for them to sign up for new accounts. It’s a simple way to get new bettors onto sportsbooks and increase revenue. States have seen significant increases in betting handle when lifting requirements for in-person registration.

Colorado launched sports betting with mobile registration from day one. Colorado sports betting handle was $2.3 billion in its first full year of mobile sports betting from May 2020 to May 2021. During that same period, Illinois saw $4.6 billion in betting handle. However, Colorado has less than half the population of Illinois, meaning Colorado bettors wagered more per capita than Illinois bettors. Part of the reason was likely that Colorado’s sportsbooks were more accessible from the beginning.

Illinois’ sports betting industry will no doubt see a boost from mobile registration. 

College Bets In Illinois’ Sports Betting Amendment 

Under the same amendment that’s on its way to the governor’s desk, rules for wagering on college sports change, too. Once Pritzker signs the bill, Illinois bettors will be able to place bets on events involving the state’s college teams, as long as those wagers are placed in person. Online wagering on in-state college teams and bets on college athletes’ individual performances will still not be allowed.

Limiting bets on college sports is intended to keep financially vulnerable athletes from changing their performances to cash in on bets. However, that concern may be less relevant now that NCAA athletes can profit from NIL deals. This will likely be an ongoing debate in Illinois. 

Allowing these wagers will increase sportsbook revenue, too. College football and basketball are among the most popular sports to bet on.

Between mobile registration and new college wagers, Illinois is bringing some long-awaited changes to its sports betting industry. 

About the Author

Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is a senior author and contributor for Gaming Today. He's a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, Colorado.

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