Illinois lifts sports betting in-person registration, BetMGM enters the market

On Saturday, Illinois permanently eliminated the in-person registration requirement for statewide sports betting, just in time for NCAA men’s basketball tournament March Madness, and analysts say it could boost Illinois to a record $1 billion in legal sports bets this month. On the same day, BetMGM launched mobile sports betting operations in the state, marking its 22nd market.

BetMGM has become the online sports betting platform for Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, which formerly used the FanDuel sports app. FanDuel will continue to run the retail sportsbook at Par-A-Dice, Gaming Board spokesman Joe Miller told the Chicago Tribune on Friday. Illinois now can access BetMGM’s online sports wagering platform that earns real-world experiences at MGM Resorts’ 20+ premier destinations across the country with every wager, via the recently launched BetMGM Rewards loyalty program. The points can be redeemed for accomodations and experiences at MGM Resorts properties nationwide including Bellagio and MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Borgata in Atlantic City, MGM Grand Detroit, MGM Northfield Park in Ohio, MGM National Harbor in Maryland, and Beau Rivage in Mississippi.

The BetMGM app allows users to customize pre-game, live in-play, futures and parlay wagers. Customers can engage in BetMGM’s exclusive free-to-play contests surrounding marquee sporting events as well as the One Game Parlay product where players can combine their wagers on a single game to earn even larger payouts.

“This launch marks a significant milestone for BetMGM as we enter one of the country’s biggest sports betting markets. We look forward to working with the state of Illinois to bring its passionate sports fans a new, innovative and unique sports betting experience,” stated BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt. 

Hey Illinois — You asked, we answered.#TheKingofSportsbooks is now LIVE in the Prairie State.

🗣 LET’S GO!!!

— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) March 5, 2022

Illinois approved sports wagering in 2019 as part of a gambling expansion bill, but unlike most states, the law required customers to sign up at a bricks-and-mortar sportsbook to bet online. Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide stay-at-home order, the sportsbook was closed and March Madness was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In June 2020, Rivers Casino Des Plaines became the first casino to offer mobile sports betting in Illinois. With casinos still closed, Pritzker temporarily suspended the in-person registration requirement to allow bettors to create accounts and wager online. Pritzker reinstated the requirement in April 2021 as COVID-19 restrictions eased statewide. In late December, Pritzker signed a legislation package that lets new sports bettors sign up for accounts online instead of in-person as of March 5, lifts the ban on in-state collegiate sports, and allows for a sportsbook at Wintrust Arena.

Also in December, the Chicago City Council agreed to lift the Chicago ban on sports betting and impose a Mayor-backed 2% tax on gross revenues from it, which allows sportsbooks to open in and around Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, the United Center and Wintrust Arena.

The state has nine operating retail sportsbooks, seven of which offer online sports betting. Chris Grove, a partner with Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a California-based research and consulting firm, told the Chicago Tribune that FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM have the most to gain from remote registration, and will likely employ more aggressive advertising to lure new customers in Chicago.