Illinois has already become the fourth-largest sports betting market in the United States, but there are still some improvements to be made. Currently, sportsbooks cannot offer betting on in-state college teams, and that limits the amount of money and action that is brought in.
Representative Mike Zalewski has filed a bill to amend the Sports Wagering Act, hoping that betting on teams such as the Illinois Fighting Illini and Northwestern Wildcats could be offered. Zalewski was forced to re-file his old bill as a new group of lawmakers were sworn in.
House Bill 0849 would eliminate the provision that prohibits sportsbooks from taking action on Illinois based colleges and universities. It’s unclear how much support the bill has, but a rule change could provide a huge boost to a growing market.
Presidents and athletic directors from Illinois universities have lobbied against a rule change, arguing that betting on these events could hurt the integrity of the sport. Ultimately, these college leaders will have little to no say in the matter, as money is more important to lawmakers.
Tough Debate in Many States
The issue of whether or not to allow betting on collegiate sporting events has been a major topic of debate in several states that offer sports betting. Some states restrict the betting market altogether, while others follow the same path as Illinois.
New Jersey is the biggest betting market in the US, but it also prohibits betting on in-state college sporting events. Iowa and Pennsylvania allow betting on in-state teams, but sportsbooks cannot offer prop betting options on those games.
The NCAA has continued to oppose the legalization of sports betting, but that organization has had little impact on the industry.
Limits on Prop Betting
Super Bowl prop betting brought in some huge numbers throughout the United States, but that was not the case in Illinois. Just days before the Super Bowl, the Illinois Gaming Board issued a memo to sportsbooks outlining the prop betting limitations.
Only prop betting options that were directly related to the action on the field could be offered by Illinois sportsbooks. This eliminated a large number of options that were seen in other parts of the US, and could potentially hurt the Illinois numbers from Super Bowl weekend.
Remote Registration Still Available
The Illinois sports betting laws require in-person registration for the first 18 months after the first initial bet is taking. Since March, in-person registration has been required for less than four full months as Governor J.B. Pritzker has issued an Executive Order that allows remote registration.
Executive Order 2020-41 was first issued in June as a way to promote online sports betting during the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, there were no online options in Illinois, but there are now five heading into March 2021.
That Executive Order was recently extended again, and it will be in effect until March 6. It seems likely that Pritzker will continue extending this order until a permanent change in the law is made.