There are a number of retail and online sports betting options available in Illinois, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years.
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Sports betting was approved as a part of a much larger gambling expansion package, and it was done to bring in more revenue for the state.
Illinois has a number of popular professional sports teams that have helped drive sports betting and the city of Chicago has played a large role. A number of states in the Midwest now have sports betting, but it is Illinois that is the clear leader in this portion of the US.
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There are both retail sportsbooks and online sportsbooks available in Illinois. The retail sportsbooks are located at the retail casinos or racetracks located in the state.
Illinois sports betting launched in March 2020, and retail sportsbooks were the only option at that time. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois, was the first to offer retail sports betting.
Illinois online sports betting came along in June, and at the end of 2020, there were five online sports betting options available. The five online sportsbooks at the time of this writing are:
There are still some online sports betting licenses available in Illinois, and more operators are expected to launch as 2021 continues. It’s unclear what operators will be granted licenses by the Illinois Gaming Board or how quickly they will arrive.
There is an in-person registration requirement in Illinois which was suspended for a short time in June 2020, to expire in 2021.
That in-person registration requirement again became the letter of the law when Pritzker’s executive order suspending the need for in-person account registration in fact expired. Therefore, users looking to start a new account with their preferred sportsbook must physically visit the book’s retail partner location to register and play.
IL Sports Betting Rules
Illinois lawmakers gave sportsbooks plenty of freedom when they created the IL sports betting rules and regulations, but there are two markets that are off-limits. All of the professional sports leagues in the United States can be offered, and sportsbooks are free to offer international betting markets as well.
In addition to all of the professional teams listed above, teams from surrounding states are extremely popular as well. The city of St. Louis has a number of teams that help drive sports betting in the state.
One of the markets that are not available in Illinois is betting on in-state college teams. These teams include the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, to name a few.
Collegiate sporting events can be offered by sportsbooks, and college football and college basketball are two of the most popular betting option.
Esports is another market that is not yet legal in Illinois, although it was initially discussed when the rules were being created. As esports continues to grow in popularity, this could potentially be added on at a later date.
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IL Sports Betting Regulations
Governor JB Pritzker signaled that he was in favor of gambling expansion and sports betting when he first took office, and that forced lawmakers to begin drafting bills. Illinois was looking for new sources of revenue, and sports betting was seen as one of the best possible options.
Senate Bill 690 was amended several times before it was eventually passed through both the House and Senate. Governor Pritzker signed this bill into law in June 2019, officially making sports betting legal.
The Illinois Gaming Board oversees casino gambling in the state, and it was tasked with overseeing the new Illinois sports betting industry. The Illinois Gaming Board began accepting applications shortly after sports betting was legalized, but betting would not start until March 2020.
When sports betting was first legalized in Illinois, the state was home to 10 riverboat casinos and three racetracks. All of these properties were able to apply for a sports betting license, and they were also given a clear head start in the industry.
Senate Bill 690 stated that there would be three online-only licenses available, but those could not be handed out until the industry was at least 18 months old. Online sportsbooks have been able to get around this rule by partnering with casinos and offering their online brand.
Major stadiums in Illinois can also apply for a sports betting license, and a sportsbook can be established within a five-block radius of the stadium. Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, and the United Center would all qualify under this provision.
Lawmakers were also hoping to bring in some revenue during the application/licensing process as there are some high fees for both. Licensing fees cost $10 million for a land-based facility, and an online-only license costs $20 million.
All gross gaming revenue in Illinois is taxed at a rate of 15 percent. Official league data is also required by sportsbooks that wish to offer in-play betting markets.
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It has not taken Illinois long to become one of the biggest markets in the United States. The entire Midwest portion of the US sports betting industry saw tremendous growth in 2020, but it was Illinois that emerged as the leader.
The most recent figures saw Illinois bring in more than $430 million in sports betting handle, and that was still with a limited number of operators. More sportsbooks are expected to launch in 2021, leading to another monster year for the industry.
Betting on Illinois collegiate sports teams is one of the only restrictions in the state, but there are still plenty other available betting markets. The Illinois sports betting industry was projected to be a major player, and it has turned out that way during the first many months of being live.