Welcome to the Game Illinois Sports Bettors – Senate Bill 690 Opens a New Era in Illinois
The wave of legal sports betting continued to roll across the US on Sunday. Illinois lawmakers sent Senate Bill 690 to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk for a signature. Pritzker has already indicated his intention to approve the legislation. Here’s a quick look at what we know now about 800-plus page piece of legislation, and who we think are the early winners and losers.
Illinois SB690 Basics
One aspect of SB 690 is the authorization to immediately begin construction on six new casinos. Each of the casino facilities will be in line to receive a sportsbook license, as well as approval for casino games. The bill also intends to permit the installation of slot machines at Chicago’s two international airports.
However, and most importantly for the eager Illinois sports fan, the bill is going to open the door to betting on the games they love. Every current casino in the state will have an opportunity to purchase the required license to permit sports betting.
In addition, any sports facility that can hold a minimum number of spectators will be eligible for a license. That means Cubs fans may soon be able to bet on all types of sporting events during a visit to Wrigley Field.
Senate Bill 690 is expected to infuse roughly $12 billion in revenue over the next six years. There are a number of statewide programs that will benefit. A large portion of the capital will come from license fees for sports betting facilities.
These fees will cost somewhere between $3 and $20 million dollars each. The price of the license will depend on the type of facility and scope of operations. There will be a license structure for physical sportsbook locations and online sports betting providers. The current tax rate for sports betting operations is set at 15-percent.
Winners and Losers from SB690
Of course, Illinoisans are going to gradually appreciate the windfall revenue that is expected from the passing of this bill. A first priority of lawmakers is to earmark funds to help rebuild the state’s failing infrastructure, so construction workers will also see a boom in employment opportunities.
Education always seems to be at the top of the list for funds generated by any type of gaming operations. The Illinois education system will see its fair share of revenue. It goes without saying that the Illinois sports fan will also be a big winner, now able to legally bet on professional sports games.
While one of the winners are professional sports fans, college sports are currently not part of the bill. Currently, the bill does not allow for wagers to be placed on any games involving the state’s NCAA sports teams.
Two other early losers, or at least currently behind in the race for a place in the Illinois sports betting market, are DraftKings and FanDuel. Seems their long-running insistence that their daily fantasy games should be legal in the state have earned a penalty flag thrown against both.
How Did This Timeout Come to Pass?
The casino industry in Illinois grabbed a hold of this and ran with it. They lobbied for a total three-year ban against both for operating their mobile sportsbook. Their pleas did not fall on deaf ears at the legislative level.
Two features of the bill will prevent DraftKings and FanDuel, plus any other non-branded online sportsbook provider, from setting up in Illinois under their own brand. First, the only way to register for the next year and a half is in person.
This means Illinois residents must visit a brick and mortar facility to register to bet online. Second, every online sports betting app must be attached to a current physical sportsbook. So, DraftKings can apply for a license to operate an online betting app, but that app must be branded to their partner casino Caesars.
There is also going to be heated race for the three online-only licenses the state will issue after the initial 18-month period. These licenses will cost $20 million each. All the current industry-leaders in the online sports betting market will have to start out akin to sitting on the inactive list.
They’ll be parked on the bench for at least the next 18 months. DraftKings screamed foul when the initial three-year ban was announced, but may have softened their stance since the new legislation became official.
A legal fight would not only be a tough win, it would present the company in an unfavorable light in the eyes of the same people who will be approving a license when they’re available. Better to focus on other states or other options, using the old boxing adage, No Mas; at least for this round.
So, add Illinois to the list of states who have seen the light and determined legal sports betting is just too lucrative of an opportunity to pass up. Fans will be eager to lay down that first ticket as soon as the ticket windows are open. However, DraftKings and FanDuel will have to sit on the sidelines for the time being, patiently waiting for the coach to put them in the game.