Zalewski: $20 Million Mobile-Only Sports Betting License Will Be A Tough Sell

Written By Joe Boozell on July 13, 2021
mobile only sports betting

Michael J. Zalewski, an Illinois House Representative, told Play Illinois that he doesn’t predict any operators spending the$ 20 million and a half on an online-only sports betting license.

So, if no gaming company bids on one of the three mobile licenses and there is no legislative fix, in-person sports betting registration will be here to stay. The issuance of an online-only license is the key to triggering remote sportsbook registration in Illinois.

Applications for these online-only licenses should become available in December.

But Zalewski said he does not believe anyone will bid on those licenses due to the hefty price tag. A typical sports wagering license in Illinois may not exceed $10 million, so the price gap is significant.

That might lead to a situation where there is no end in sight for in-person membership.

Though Zalewski, for what it’s worth, is hopeful that the Sports Wagering Act can be tweaked to either lower the price of the online-only licenses, or make it so that the online-only licenses aren’t the trigger for remote registration.

The original intent of the law, he said, was for in-person registration to expire after 18 months. Of course, the law has not played out as intended. The online-only licenses were meant to entice the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel to Illinois.

Instead, those companies bypassed the “penalty box” by linking up with casinos and racetracks. Now, they are the Illinois market leaders.

One might assume that a fast legislative fix would be very simple given the lawmakers’ andrsquo’s original intent.

Although that might be wishful thinking if you’re comfortable with Illinois legislation.

Illinois sports gambling history of in-person membership

Governor of Illinois In June 2019, JB Pritzker ratified the Sports Wagering Act. For the first 18 weeks following the initial license, it included in-person registration; after that, simply virtual licenses may be available.

Everyone would be able to register online once the Illinois Gaming Board ( IGB ) issued the first mobile-only license.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the Illinois sports betting landscape. The pandemic caused Pritzker to suspend in-person registration for seven-plus months, paving the way for remote sign-ups.

Illinoisans certainly took advantage. In April and May, the Land of Lincoln was the No. 2 sports betting market in the US by handle.

Despite Pritzker’s return of in-person registration in early April, That & rsquo. Illinoisans bet$ 633.6 million on activities in March, which was the highest amount for the position.

Not only is the$ 20 million price tag high, but it’s also likely that online licenses aren’t as alluring to potential users as they once were.

DraftKings and FanDuel won’t be competing for the permissions because the business is now strong. To join a( fairly ) established market and support those more established operators in the process would cost the prospective operator$ 20 million.

Company X may become helping themselves if they opt for a mobile-only permit, but it’s also possible that they’re helping casinos like DraftKings, FanDuel, and Barstool.

It makes sense that mobile-only certificates are difficult to sell for all of those factors.

BetMGM, Unibet, theScore Bet, Golden Nugget and Bally’s have all taken steps to enter the IL sports betting market. Though for now, the timelines for those incoming sportsbooks are up in the air.

What about betting at express colleges in Illinois?

Zalewski is hopeful that this year’s in-state school bets ban will be lifted.

When asked about placing bets on Illinois college teams, Zalewski replied,” I think it gets done, & rdquo.”

In the last legislative session, the House passed a bill that would legalize in-person betting on Illinois collegiate teams. Zalewski confirmed that it could serve as an incremental policy step toward online IL collegiate wagering.

The Senate has yet to vote on the bill, which is expected to happen in October. The bill passed with ease in the House.

According to sources, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman, who & rsquo, has been the most vocal opponent of legal in-state college betting and has even softened his position as a result of the on-the-spot compromise.

At a public House Executive Committee hearing in April, Whitman defended his position:

& ldquo, Most of the time, student athletes base a lot of their self-concept or image on what they post on social media about people they’ve never met. And that & rsquo is a battle we engage in every day in today’s college sports. We & rsquo is only opening the door and inviting people to have those intense, threatening, and abusive interactions with our student athletes by allowing people in our state to wager on our own students. & rdquo,

In the Illinois sports betting sector, it’s going to be an exciting Q4.

AP pictures by Seth Perlman
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Boozell, Joe

Boozell, Joe has also been a college sports writer for since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, and Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene … you can imagine how that went.

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