Reversal Of Fortune: Gov. Pritzker Resumes State’s In-Person Registration Requirement

Written By Derek Helling on July 27, 2020Last Updated on August 16, 2020

Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois reinstated the requirement for in-person registration just days before DraftKings Sportsbook was reportedly due to begin accepting online bets in the state.

The intriguing timing of the turnaround coincides with the opening of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and other brick-and-mortar gambling establishments.

Reversal Of Fortune: Gov. Pritzker Resumes State’s In-Person Registration Requirement 2

What & rsquo, are you okay with the return of the requirement for in-person registration?

All bettors from Illinois who haven’t signed up at an online casino by 12:01 a.m. will be required to revisit the state’s associated casino, off-track betting location, or racetrack to complete their account registrations.

In early June, Pritzker put a halt to that requirement. During this period, all of the state’s casinos were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus Rivers along with other casinos were not generating any income.

Pritzker’s action brought about a change for Rivers Casino. BetRivers, the online sportsbook run by the same parent company as the casino, started accepting bets within just a few days.

Since that time, BetRivers has stood as the sole legal online sports betting platform for residents of Illinois. However, this was poised to change, with DraftKings on the brink of emerging as a competitor to BetRivers IL.

aggressive play by DraftKings & rsquo to enter Illinois

July has been a busy month for DraftKings in the Prairie State.

Earlier this month, a market-access deal was announced by the operator with Casino Queen in East St. Louis. The Illinois Gaming Board approved DraftKings’ management services provider permit just over a week ago.

DraftKings announced last week that it would make its branding central to the East St. Louis property, even incorporating its name into the casino’s title. This move was vital as the state’s emergency sports betting regulations stipulate that the facility’s name must be the primary element in the branding of online sportsbooks.

At the end of the week, it seemed that DraftKings was rapidly progressing towards launching its electronic platform in Illinois. The sportsbook had already begun advertising a $100 bonus wager for Illinois residents who were opening new accounts.

It seemed that the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) was the only organization that DraftKings was waiting on to issue Casino Queen its master license.

The certainty for Sportsbook has significantly decreased now that Pritzker has rescinded the expulsion on Sunday.

DraftKings is starting over from scratch.

All your efforts on DraftKings & rsquo are not wasted. When the IGB grants the king passport to Casino Queen, it will still be able to offer online and in-store sports betting.

However, any new DraftKings customer must firstly travel to East St. Louis and attend the game to be able to place bets on the app or website.

DraftKings is faced with a decision. Should it delay any expenditure until the mandate for in-person registration is no longer in effect? This will occur when the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) issues the first of three online-only licenses, which will be available 540 days after March 9, 2020.

The situation becomes more intriguing due to the personal and political connections between Pritzker, Rivers, and DraftKings, as well as their decision to ignore a warning five years ago.

Pritzker & rsquo’s connections to Rivers and how it benefits the casino

The connections between Pritzker and the Rivers are well established.

In 2018, the daughter and ex-wife of Neil Bluhm, the CEO of Rush Street Gaming that operates Rivers, made a collective donation of $110,000 to Pritzker’s election campaign.

DraftKings’ entry into Illinois may pit BetRivers against some stiff competition. DraftKings is widely recognized as a major force in the sports betting industry, particularly because of its ability to operate profitably.

DraftKings’ plans are derailed as the requirement for in-person registration is reinstated, throwing a wrench in their strategy. This turn of events secures BetRivers as the sole authorized online betting platform in Illinois. It also guarantees that BetRivers will be the sole beneficiary of this temporary disruption.

However, even though this action negatively affects DraftKings, there is a limitation to immediate goals. In 2015, DraftKings set its own course, and it seems like Pritzker is still on the same path.

DraftKings earlier disregarded AG DFS advice.

In 2015, the then-IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an opinion that was expected to impact DraftKings. However, DraftKings decided to disregard it.

Madigan interpreted that DraftKings, a brand of daily fantasy contests, was conducting illegal gambling according to the law. However, DraftKings continued to accept paid entries in Illinois even after this interpretation was published.

The decision certainly played a part in Illinois’ latest expansion of gambling. The purpose of the requirement for in-person registration and the delay for online-only certification was to penalize DraftKings.

In all honesty, DraftKings should have anticipated Pritzker’s move with its most recent activity, which seemed to effectively dodge that so-called “penalty box.”

By persisting to accept DFS comments, DraftKings not only ignored the counsel of Illinois’ top law enforcement officer, but it also became a powerful adversary five years ago. The mother is Mike Madigan, the Speaker of the House in Illinois.

It’s also easy to understand Pritzker’s support for the senior Madigan.

Not long after taking office, Pritzker contributed more than $7 million from his own personal funds to Madigan’s campaign for reelection.

The payment might have facilitated the enactment of the gaming expansion law. It could also have determined the fate of DraftKings.

The decision made by Pritzker comes at an appropriate time since casinos in Illinois are reopening. However, the reinstatement of the in-person authorization is not merely about whether Rivers has staff to check drivers’ licenses.

Helling, Derek Avatar
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Helling, Derek

Derek Helling is a prominent writer for PlayUSA and also holds the managerial position at BetHer. He completed his graduation from the University of Iowa in 2013 and specializes in covering the convergence of sports with business and law.

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