Legalized Illinois Sports Betting has finally been fully realized. On Friday, June 28, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed sports betting into law. This officially gave sports betting in Illinois the green light.
However, it was far from a slam dunk. In fact, it looked like it might not happen before the end of the session, if at all. Efforts to legalize online sports betting failed in 2018, and it went down to the wire this time around.
However, Illinois sports betting passed with little time to spare. Today, IL sports betting enthusiasts can place all kinds of wagers. Retail outlets and online betting sites are open for business. Heck, visitors to O’Hare and Midway can kill time on slot machines and video poker terminals. That will make flight delays a little more tolerable.
Not valid for any participant of the Illinois Gaming Board Statewide Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program. Must be 21 years of age or older. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537).
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL). Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO) or 1-800-BETS OFF (IA).
It seems that IL sports betting might not have been legalized without further gambling expansion in the state. In April, 25 senators let Governor Pritzker know their support was pending.
They wanted assurances that expanded gambling would also be on the agenda.
Additionally, the sports betting bill also needed a couple of amendments and other minor tweaks. It all came together after some frantic effort.
So, along with Illinois sports betting comes expanded gambling. Existing casino gaming establishments are now allowed to expand making more space for table games and slot machines. Communities including Rockford and Waukegan get casinos, while a massive mega-casino complex is being planned for Chicago.
The biggest casino is expected to feature over 4,000 stations. This new casino is expected to be privately owned and Chicago will receive a third of the tax revenue.
Many gambling proponents expect expanded gambling to play a prominent role in digging Illinois out its financial crunch. Despite high hopes, it is by no means a sure thing. Between 2016 and 2017, Illinois was one of just four states that experienced a drop in consumer casino spending.
From 2013 until 2017, revenue from the state’s casinos dipped by 15%. Offsetting that decline was the growth of video gambling terminals which sharply rose from $30 million to $300 million.
Now that everything has been implemented, onetime revenues could net Illinois up to $2.7 billion. The new casinos are expected at the high end to bring in about $360 million from applications, licenses, and related one-off fees. After that, gambling is projected to haul in about $470 million each year. Annual revenues from slot machines are expected to generate $170 million annually. Table games could be good for about $17 million every year. Despite these hopeful projections, Illinois doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to gambling revenue estimates.
Illinois has at least taken steps to curb the inevitable problems that historically accompany legalized gambling. The budget to treat problem gambling has risen to nearly $7 million. That’s a significant increase from less than one million dollars which is where it was prior to legalization. Other measures, such as the implementation of self-exclusion and other preventative criteria, are also in place.
Illinois’ approach to sports betting is a bit perplexing. Illinois has imposed the third-highest tax rate on bookmakers in the United States. This puts sports betting operators in Illinois at a distinct disadvantage. Sportsbooks have little choice but to pass on costs to bettors. Therefore, sports bettors get less value and wagering activity declines as do those much-needed revenues.
Neighboring Iowa has recently legalized sports betting too. But their tax rate on bookies is much lower. Illinois shouldn’t be surprised if their high hopes, or greed depending on how you see it, costs them dearly. Iowa sportsbooks join Nevada’s sportsbooks as having the lowest tax rates in the country.
Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have a lot to teach Illinois. Rhode Island’s brain trust predicted sports betting would bring in about $2 million in revenues each month. They have been lucky to see even half of those revenues. A 51% tax rate on sports betting revenue is simply not competitive. Pennsylvania’s 36% tax rate on sportsbooks and high licensing fees are bound to have an adverse effect.
Instead of following other states like New Jersey which has exceeded expectations, Illinois appears to be going for the big grab. Only time will tell if their approach is successful. It’s almost a given that experienced Chicago sports betting gurus will be tempted to continue betting with illegal bookies. Either that or place their wagers in Iowa. Both options offer far more value.
Illinois fans can happily bet on their Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks right now, today (if it’s the right season)! Everything is up and running, and you can bet on sports online or in-person today in Illinois.
Gambling operators have already formed some partnerships. For example, Hawthorne Race Course and PointsBet has opened a state-of-the-art venue at Stickney. Many more sites are anticipated.
Illinois has a pretty stringent process when it comes to applying for a sports betting license, and now has some tricky rules for getting online.
Primarily, you should know that all users looking to bet online in Illinois will now have to physically visit a partnering casino or venue in order to sign up for a sports betting app. The previous suspension of the in-person registration rule expired, so once again, you’ll have to make your way to an in-person registration site before you can play.
When you are ready to play, you’ll want to pick your favorite operator. We do know a couple of things regarding market access. DraftKings and FanDuel are no longer “iced out” of the market, and are both taking bets in IL.
We also expect to see an app from Caesars- because they own Harrah’s, it’s quite likely they will offer Illinoisans a sports betting app. With one already proving successful in New Jersey, it shouldn’t take too long to roll one out, since Illinois sports betting is now legal and live.
BetRivers was another strong candidate, and is now taking bets in Illinois. Of course, some of the world’s biggest sports betting brands like William Hill and 888 have been aggressively expanding. They are poised to get their share of the fledgling Illinois online sports gambling market.
Another thing we know is that every Illinois online sports betting app providers must partner with an existing brick-and-mortar bookmaker. The state has made an exception by issuing three online licenses that don’t require a land-based license holder.
These permits fetch a cool $20 million each, but they’re already proving to be lucrative for the operators doing business in Illinois today.
Chicago sports betting fans should have a good choice of retail sports betting outlets at their disposal. There are already betting venues popping up in or around large sports facilities. Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, and the United Center either have or will have sportsbooks in-person. These are all positive decisions for Illinois sports betting.
Outside of Chicago, Bridgeview’s SeatGeek Stadium, Joliet’s Chicagoland Speedway, Rosemont’s Allstate Arena, and Wide Technology Raceway are also strong candidates, with some already going live with retail sportsbooks. On top of those possibilities, casinos and existing horse tracks are allowed to open sportsbooks and offer sports betting.
You will notice Northwestern’s Ryan Field is not included in the list of probable sports betting sites? That’s because Illinois will not allow bets on anything related to Illinois schools, colleges, or universities.
The Illinois online sports betting public will also have access to as many as 5,000 betting kiosks- they’re being built and launched on a regular basis. These are much like traditional lottery kiosks. Those in Illinois won’t need to travel very far to place their wagers.
Potential sportsbook operators had to play the waiting game but now can jump in with their own land-based sports betting venue.Casino Queen, which has several locations, already boasts a DraftKings sportsbook. William Hill is the betting partner for the Grand Victoria. Whether you want to play online or in-person, you’ve got a ton of options in Illinois.