On June 28, 2019, Illinois’ Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill to expand the existing gambling laws in the State, and consequently, legalize sports betting – However, since former NHL player Eddie Olczyk placed Illinois’ first legal $100 sports bet in March 2020, the release of both land-based and mobile / sports betting has hit yet another stalemate.
Since then, residents have been patiently waiting for Illinois sports betting to arrive, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the state to delay implementing the measures that would see sports betting come to life. Originally, Rivers Casino was opened in March, and was the first land-based location to accept legal sports bets, but was quickly closed due to Coronavirus-restrictions.
However, on June 4, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order which allows people to register for brick-and-mortar or online sportsbooks from home, waiving part of the Gaming Expansion Bill that requires bettors to register ‘in-person’ first.
Originally, the bill stated that residents must register at a land-based casino or sportsbook before visiting and wagering at an online site, and now, residents can access online sportsbooks and wager without visiting a land-based location.
Illinois is missing out on revenue typically created by land-based casinos, which might have something to do with the change of bill due to Executive Order 2020-41, which ensures social distancing is observed and COVID-19 could spread. However, the Illinois Gaming Board plans to meet again on June 11, 2020 to discuss the Disaster Proclamation and continuation of the gambling bill expansion, and what actions will be in place when businesses, like casinos, reopen.
In an interview with Reuters, Governor Pritzker says the Expansion Bill is, “…one of the most ambitious and consequential legislative sessions in this state’s history.”
Until COVID-related restrictions are lifted and the bill can be enacted in full, Illinois residents can access sportsbooks, create accounts, and place bets from the comfort of their own home.