A new online campaign dubbed Fans For The Future, reportedly backed by DraftKings, is urging Illinois residents to reach out to elected officials asking that they reinstate online sportsbook registration, according to a published report.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had suspended the state’s in-person registration requirement as part of an executive order issued June 4 in response to the pandemic. The order temporarily allowed sports bettors to remotely register for accounts online or via mobile device.
However, in late July, Pritzker issued a follow-up executive order that preserved most provisions of the previous month’s version, but did not renew the portion that allowed online sportsbook registration. This means in order to register for an account at Illinois sportsbooks, bettors must physically visit a casino property and do so in person.
We reached out to the governor’s office at the time, and spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said there was “no longer a need” to suspend mandatory in-person registration because Illinois casinos had reopened for business. She declined to answer our follow-up about the potential health ramifications of compelling bettors to travel to indoor public places in light of the pandemic.
The Emails And Calls To Action
The emails reportedly sent to Illinois residents include a link to Fans For The Future, where visitors will find a form to enter contact information. Upon entering their information, a prewritten message is automatically sent to Illinois officials, including state representatives, state senators, and Gov. Pritzker himself. The prefab notes all express enthusiasm for sports betting in the state, but strong disapproval for taking away online sportsbook registrations.
According to SportsHandle, the messages read as follows:
“I am so excited about mobile sports betting in Illinois, but I just tried to sign up and was told that I have to go to a casino to open up an account. I don’t understand. Why should I have to leave my home to do something that I can do more easily on my phone? This makes no sense. If I can register online for an illegal account with no consumer protections, I should be able to register online for a legal account that protects Illinois sports fans and generates revenue for our state at a time when it’s desperately needed. Please right this wrong.”
“I just found out that the state stopped letting people sign-up online for sports betting in Illinois. That’s ridiculous. Especially during COVID, no one should be forced to leave their homes and drive hours in order to take part in an online activity they could legally do just last month, and I should be able to choose how to register. If Illinois sports fans can sign up for illegal sports betting sites from home, they should be allowed to register online for a legal account that protects consumers and generates revenue for our state when we need it the most. Please help fix this so I can sign up to place mobile sports bets on my phone.”
“I urge you to do whatever you can to allow for full mobile sports betting without me having to drive somewhere to sign up first. As an Illinois sports fans I want to place mobile bets now that sports are returning. But I don’t want to leave my home to register somewhere in-person. Please reinstate online registration for mobile sports betting and ensure that Illinois sports fans have consumer protections that they won’t have if they choose to just sign up at home for an illegal offshore account.”
DraftKings Sportsbook Involvement
Currently, the only available options for mobile sports betting in Illinois are through BetRivers, which is partnered with Rivers Casino, and DraftKings, which recently announced a partnership with Casino Queen that saw the East St. Louis casino rebrand as DraftKings at Casino Queen. It launched its retail sportsbook on Aug. 5.
Reached by email, a DraftKings spokesperson said the company had no comment.
Companies lobby for their interests all the time, so there’s nothing deceptive or unusual about DraftKings’ alleged involvement in Fans For The Future. But it’s an interesting example of how the big market players shift their strategies when they encounter procedural or legislative obstacles. It’s likely we’ll see similar campaigns play out over the coming months and years as more states legalize mobile sports betting.
Emails seeking comment from Gov. Pritzker’s office were not returned by press time.
Check the latest at DraftKings Illinois.