Illinois To Fully Legalize Sports Betting

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Illinoise Sports Betting Legalisation

Legalization of sports betting in the U.S. seems to be moving full tilt ahead. Over the last weekend in Illinois, a capital funding bill was finally approved. It implies a broad expansion of gambling, including sports gambling.

It has already become almost a proverbial story that the state of Illinois passes many important decisions at the last second. This time, the Illinois lawmakers voted to legalize sports betting on the last day of the session; now the only thing missing is the governor’s signature. Governor J.B. Pritzker is definitely going to sign it into law, as his role in promoting this development has been quite significant. He believes that approval of betting in the state would generate about $200 million in revenue to the state budget of Illinois.

The outcomes of the bill are many, including launching a brick-and-mortar casino in Chicago (already in the works for a long time) and authorization of retail and online sports betting. Casinos, sports venues and racing tracks are now allowed to offer in-person and online sports wagering. The new law also significantly expands a lottery implementation.

Based on the gross revenues from the past year, the license fee for sports betting has been calculated. For the casinos, it will be 5% of their past year’s revenue – this kind of licensing alone is going to generate about $10 million for the state.

However, IL mayor Lightfoot has been quite critical towards the new legislation, as it implies full legalization of sports betting at stadiums. She has rightfully pointed out that the impact of stadium-betting has not been fully analyzed and that it could potentially divert customers and revenues from the casinos. Nevertheless, an agreement has been reached through the provisions to limit the amount of betting and to restrict the number of locations offering this kind of wagering – clearly, subject to constant oversight and control.

It should be noted that all these changes are going to seriously affect related businesses and markets. The issue itself is quite delicate. Any attempt to restrict sports wagering, for example, to casinos and racetracks, raises objections from other venues potentially interested in providing such services. Video gaming retailers are concerned about their revenues as they understand that if customers are going to wager from their mobile phones, there would be fewer customers in the slot parlors, and so on.

Illinois is one of the states where sports leagues have a strong pull. The new law is going to be very beneficial for them because of the integrity fees – the revenues generated by the taxation of sports betting.

The new bill is a big step forward. A year ago, the same attempt to legalize sports betting in Illinois had failed after many discussions and a subsequent decision to seriously rework the legislation proposed. As Rep. Lou Lang said last year, “It is more important that we do it right than we do it fast.”

Thus, in 2019, Illinois becomes the 16th state in the U.S. (+ Washington, D.C.) where sports wagering is allowed (with, however, many important differences and nuances in their respective legislation).

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