- Illinois casinos will be allowed to reopen beginning on Wednesday with new social distancing and public health regulations.
- This will be the first opportunity for retail sports betting in Illinois in three months.
- Access to online and mobile sports betting odds have been expanded since the start of the pandemic.
- Revenues will still be depressed by a lack of betting options until the return of major North American sports leagues in mid-July to early August.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – All Illinois casinos are set to reopen on Wednesday following the state’s decision to progress to Phase Four of its reopening plan.
This will include all licensed retail sportsbooks, although strict social distancing and public safety measures will still be observed.
- All casinos will be limited to 50% of maximum occupancy.
- Casino patrons will be mandated to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
- Additional efforts must be made to clean and sanitize high-contact surfaces.
The return of retail sports betting is a welcome respite for Illinois. The state launched sports betting on March 9, just a week before the coronavirus forced all Illinois casinos to close.
Online and mobile sports betting are legal in Illinois, but sports betting laws were passed with a provision stating that bettors must visit a brick-and-mortar casino to register their online accounts in-person.
In response to the pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker removed the in-person registration requirement via executive order to stimulate the sports betting industry. BetRivers opened as Illinois’ first mobile sportsbook on June 18, with no in-person registration requirement.
Illinois’ COVID-19 case numbers are also trending down, so both the state as a whole and the sports betting industry could be well down the path to recovery now.
What’s Next For Illinois Sports Betting Under COVID-19?
The next big milestone for Illinois sports betting will come as more horse racing tracks reopen throughout the state. Races will be held without spectators, but fans will still be able to bet on the races both in casinos and via online and mobile betting platforms.
Other states have seen a huge year-over-year increase in betting action upon the return of horse racing, and Illinois could see a similar surge. Even if it doesn’t, races should still generate several million dollars in betting revenue.
Retail sports betting should also get a boost with the scheduled return of major North American sports leagues.
Major League Soccer is set to be the first league to return on July 8.
Major League Baseball should be next with a planned start date of July 24, then the NBA’s Orlando tournament will begin on August 1.
The NBA and MLB generally account for the majority of summer betting handle, and MLS has a dedicated following of enthusiastic bettors as well.
Unfortunately, even the return of a relatively normal sports schedule probably won’t cause sports betting revenues to fully rebound. Online sports betting is still in its infancy in Illinois and retail sports betting is likely to remain limited by public safety measures for at least several more months.
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With a dual background in English and sports performance and business analytics, Carter aims to write stories that both engage and inform the reader. He prides himself on his ability to interweave empirical data and traditional narrative storytelling. When he isn’t keeping readers up to date on the latest sports betting legal news, he’s banging his head against a wall regretting his decision to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.