Bill Would Allow Online Betting On In-State Teams In Illinois

Written By Dave Briggs on April 24, 2023
Illinois Fighting Illini football

New legislation filed last week in Springfield aims to amend a law currently prohibiting betting on Illinois college teams through online sportsbooks in the state.

Representative Jonathan Carroll introduced HB4041 in the house on April 20. The bill would allow an Illinois online sportsbook to “accept a wager for a sports event involving an Illinois collegiate team if the wager is a tier 1 wager and the wager is not related to an individual athlete’s performance.”

It is currently legal to bet in the Prairie State on Illinois collegiate teams, but only if one does so in person at a retail sportsbook.

Since about 94% of sports bets are made online in Illinois, that has proven to be a strict restriction on those that want to be on in-state teams. In fact, when both the University of Illinois and Northwestern University qualified for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Illinois sports bettors were forced to go to a retail sportsbook to bet on the Wildcats and Fighting Illini.

Not much time for bill to gain traction

So far, HB4041 has only been filed with the house clerk. Since the current session of the Illinois General Assembly ends on May 31, that doesn’t give the bill a lot of time to gain traction.

However, another Illinois sports betting bill is making solid progress in becoming law.

In early April, SB 1508 filed by Senator Bill Cunningham received unanimous approval, 54-0, from the Illinois Senate. If passed, the bill would force Illinois sportsbooks to provide bettors with hourly pop-up messages informing how much they’ve wagered.

Included in that pop-up would be hyperlinks and phone numbers to Illinois problem gambling resource information. This would make it easier than ever for those struggling with problem gambling to find help.

When Cunningham filed the bill, he said:

“Illinois has been a leader in the regulation of sports betting, and we need to ensure that we are also addressing the potential harms associated with gambling addiction.”

“By requiring sports wagering apps to display a pop-up message with resources for gambling addiction assistance, we can help individuals who may be struggling with problem gambling access the help they need.”

Two other gambling bills on their way to the House

Two other gambling bills have also passed the Senate:

  • Bill 323 changes the amount Illinois sportsbook operators would pay to renew their licenses. The fees to the Illinois Gaming Board would change from $150,000 annually to $50,000 every four years.
  • Bill 1462 updates eligibility standards for those with criminal records that seek an occupational license. The IGB would be required to consider the details of the person’s criminal record. Those include: length of time since conviction, number of convictions and the severity of the charges.

All three bills need to pass the House and be signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker to become legal.

Carroll also sponsored bill aiming to legalize Illinois online casinos

Carroll also is responsible for HB2320 that would make Illinois online casinos legal.

However, that bill, a similar House bill (HB2239) filed by Rep. Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. and Senate bill SB1656 introduced by State Senator Cristina Castro have all hit legislative snags. It is unlikely Illinois online casinos will be legalized this year.

HB2239 was re-routed from the House Gaming Committee to the House Rules Committee. That same day, SB1656 moved from the Senate Executive Committee to the Senate Assignments Committee.

HB2320 has remained with the Rules Committee since it was sent there on Feb. 14.

Bill to authorize exchange wagering also stalled

Another bill that would authorize exchange wagering in Illinois has also stalled.

State representative Bob Rita, a man instrumental in legalizing Illinois sportsbooks, introduced HB 1405.That bill has remained with the Rules Committee since being sent there on March 10.

It is now unlikely it will passed and signed into law this year. But, if approved, the bill would allow for two licenses for exchange wagering and tax them at 15%.

Peer-to-peer betting is another name for exchange betting.

In simple terms, it is a bet between two individuals. The exchange would create a legal marketplace where bettors could offer their own bets in the hopes of attracting interest from another person.

Users set their own terms and odds. The exchange takes a small fee similar to what an Illinois online sportsbook would take in the form of vig.

New Jersey is the only state that currently allows exchange wagering. Prophet and Sporttrade both offer exchange betting.

The concept has yet to gain traction in the United States because the Wire Act prohibits gambling across state lines. That limits the size of betting pools since exchange wagering is less popular that traditional sports betting.

Illinois sports betting is big business

The latest figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board show Illinois produced handle of $875.4 million in Februaryranking it second in the United States behind only New York ($1.47 billion) and ahead of New Jersey ($847.4 million), Nevada ($659.4 million) and Ohio ($639.8 million) that month.

Prior to February, Illinois was riding a four-month streak with over $1 billion in handle each month. That streak made the Land of Lincoln just the fourth state to post four consecutive months of billion-dollar handle. The others are New York, New Jersey and Nevada.

In February, Illinois also officially surpassed $20 billion in lifetime sports betting handle. Illinois ranks third in lifetime sports betting handle in the U.S. behind only New Jersey and Nevada.

Photo by Rebecca S. Gratz / AP
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in North America with an emphasis on the casino, sports betting, horse racing and poker sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Illinois and Canada.

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