Sports betting in the state of Illinois launched on March 9, but the industry was quickly shut down just a few days later. The coronavirus pandemic has kept casinos shut down throughout the state, and there is no telling how long the closures will last.
This time off has given the state lawmakers some extra time to create laws and regulations for the sports betting industry, and it has given casinos a chance to develop plans to go mobile. BetRivers is looking like the clear frontrunner in terms of becoming the first sportsbook to launch a mobile sportsbook.
The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is the home to the BetRivers Sportsbook and sports betting lounge, and they were the first retail sportsbook to open up. The casino held a small ceremony before Eddie Olcyzk, a hockey color commentator, made the first official sports bet in the state.
A pair of other casinos were set to join the sports betting industry a week later, but they never got the chance. There will be more than just BetRivers launching when the state reopens, but it appears only BetRivers will be ready to go online.
Currently, there are six different operators that have applied for and received a sports betting license in the state of Illinois. This does give the operators the power to launch a mobile sportsbook, but there are some other rules and restrictions that must be followed.
Rush Street Interactive owns the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, and they are the company that is powering the retail and mobile sportsbook. Rush Street Interactive has partnered with GeoComply to track where a customer is located.
Sports betting will be available through mobile to anyone within the state of Illinois, but each sportsbook has to ensure that they can track location. GeoComply will do this work for the BetRivers Sportsbook, and they are the only company currently with these capabilities.
Technically, the partnership with GeoComply means that BetRivers could start offering their mobile betting service today. The only problem is that Illinois has a complicated sign-up process, and that will severely limit the business.
According to Illinois law, all customers must sign up for an online sports betting account at the land-based casino affiliated with the online book. With all of the casinos currently shut down due to COVID-19, it’s impossible for anyone to register for an online account.
The major reason for this law was to keep some big-name companies out of the state of Illinois for at least 18 months. After 18 months, this in-person registration requirement falls off, and customers can simply register through the online sportsbook.
Other states that require this same sort of in-person registration requirement have struggled as well. The difference is that other states had more time to get people registered before the casinos were forced to close.
Illinois has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and they are likely to be one of the last states to open up their casinos. BetRivers will still be the first online sportsbook in the state, but when it happens is anyone’s guess.