Legal Sports Betting Coming to Illinois After Lawmakers Pass Bill in Extended Session

Jun 03, 2019 10:00 PM EDT
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Apr 8, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; The W flag flies after a game during the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

  • Illinois lawmakers passed bill SB690 on Sunday, which will legalize sports betting in the state after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs it into law.
  • The state will have mobile betting right away, but casinos and racetracks will get an 18-month head start over online-only operators like FanDuel and DraftKings.

Illinois became the 13th state to pass sports betting legislation on Sunday, and the fifth to pass it this year.

With the state’s legislative session extended over the weekend, the state voted to pass its bill. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign, and when he does, Illinois will join its Midwest partners Indiana and Iowa with legalized wagering, though the terms are a little different.

Illinois decided to give brick-and-mortar operations — casinos, racetracks and sports venues — an 18-month head start. Those operators can go live right away with in-person and mobile betting, while online-exclusive retailers will have to wait a year-and-a-half before entering the market.

Online-only licenses, which will be available to only three operators, will sell for $20 million each and be decided by the Gaming Board. That’s the highest number for any state by a wide margin — and it comes with a $1 million renewal fee after four years.

Operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel, which are the leaders in robust New Jersey market, will have to wait 18 months to join the Illinois market.

New Jersey will do more than $3 billion in total handle in its first year of sports gambling, with more than 75 percent of that money coming from mobile.

With a population of 12.7 million, Illinois actually has 3.8 million more people than Jersey, but with more restrictive laws — in-person registration for mobile betting, for example — it’s reasonable to expect the Prairie State to lag behind New Jersey’s numbers initially.

Illinois’ law won’t allow bettors to wager on any of its collegiate sports teams and it will impose a 15% tax on operators.

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