Legal sports betting states are increasing avenues of access for in-state wagering as March Madness prepares to kick off on Sunday. This week, Illinois lawmakers approved an amendment to allow bettors to set up sportsbook accounts remotely.
Increased Sportsbook Access
The measure will go into effect on Saturday, coupled with the statewide debut of BetMGM’s mobile sportsbook app. Industry analysts project significant growth as a result of the amendment. Some say the state sportsbook handle could increase by nearly a quarter.
For the state’s operators, this could mean massive changes to advertising strategies. For bettors, it likely indicates the arrival of more promotional bonuses. One industry consultant told The Pantagraph the following:
“We’ll definitely see an uptick in marketing in Illinois…Your ability to capitalize on that marketing as an operator increases by several orders of magnitude if all you need to do is to get someone to download an app as opposed to drive into East St. Louis.”
Chris Grove, a partner of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming
Before, sports bettors were obligated to drive to one of the state’s eight local casinos to set up accounts for remote betting. The practice isn’t unusual; in other states and U.S. territories, lawmakers include such measures to promote patronage at native-owned casinos.
Still, these kinds of laws often inadvertently exclude rural residents who may not have the time or, in these days, gas to justify a trip to the casino.
Some of these folks got the chance to remotely create accounts in 2020 when lawmakers suspended the account-making guidelines in light of COVID-19. But that only lasted for 10-months.
Online Betting Takes The Cake
The measure was reactivated by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in April of 2021. The action was followed by a significant downturn in both online and in-person wagering through August of 2021.
Frankly, there are a lot of folks who missed the sportsbook boat.
The US sportsbook hype didn’t even begin to pick up the heat until 2021. Illinois sports betting handles nearly doubled between October 2020 and October 2021.
Additionally, most of the action took place online. The state recorded over $7 billion in total wagers for the year, 95% of which were placed using a digital platform.
With the new measures in place, the state hopes to hit a $1 billion handle for March. And, really, the goal is within reach. MLB teams are in the middle of Spring Training, the NCAAB Conference Tournaments just kicked off, and the MLS season is off to a fierce start!
As online betting becomes more popularized across the United States, it will be interesting to see if other states hop on board to welcome a fully-remote infrastructure.
Until then, bettors in states without domestic betting options can still wager legally via offshore sportsbook sites.
Source: The Pantagraph