How To Bet On Illinois Schools In March Madness Tournament

Written By Matt Boecker on March 16, 2023
bet on illinois basketball fighting illini march madness tournament

The first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins today, with two schools from Illinois participating among the 64 teams. What’s even better is that you can place bets on them at a retail sportsbook in Illinois.

The teams of both men hail from the West Region. Let’s take a glimpse at their rivals and the anticipated commencement time for each competition:

  • March 16, 4:30 p.m. CST – No. 9 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks
  • The No. 7 Northwestern Wildcats will face the #10 Boise State Broncos on March 16 at 6:35 p.m. CST.

Since both schools are located in the same region of the March Madness bracket, we may see an Elite Eight matchup between Illinois and Northwestern.

Betting on that hypothetical game, as well as the rest of the Fighting Illini and Wildcats games, is possible at a licensed Illinois sports betting location. However, it will require some effort to do so.

How to bet on Illinois and Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament

Illinois enforces stringent rules prohibiting online sportsbooks from providing betting options on all college athletic events within the state. Thus, you are not allowed to place bets on the Fighting Illini, Wildcats, or any other Illinois college team using your mobile device.

However, if you visit a retail sportsbook in person, you have the option to place bets on the schools.

Sports betting was introduced in Illinois in March 2020, but it did not initially permit any betting on in-state universities. It was only in March 2021 that the Illinois General Assembly voted in favor of allowing retail sportsbooks to accept bets on Illinois schools.

However, bettors in Illinois are allowed to place bets on college sports outside the Land of Lincoln, both in person and through apps.

Why do IL sportsbooks have betting restrictions on in-state colleges?

Lawmakers and NCAA officials are the primary groups advocating for stricter regulations on in-state college betting. Here are their reasons for wanting to restrict betting on college games:

  • A lack of regulations can pose a threat to the integrity of a collegiate sporting event.
  • Restricting licensed sportsbooks from college sports can safeguard athletes against gambling influences.

Another point that has been raised is that the lack of compensation for most college athletes could make them more susceptible to accepting bribes to fix games. However, with the surge in name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals in college sports, this argument is rapidly losing validity.

Another significant issue for those advocating for additional regulations on Illinois college games is player protection. If betting is restricted, athletes may have a greater chance of avoiding conflicts or cyberbullying on social media from bettors who have lost money.

Where to find retail sportsbooks at Illinois casinos

Currently, Illinois has 11 sportsbooks linked to casinos. You can visit any of these casinos to place your bets on Illinois and Northwestern this March.

  • Hollywood Casino, Aurora (Barstool)
  • BetRivers Rivers Casino, Des Plaines
  • Grand Victoria, Elgin (Caesars)
  • DraftKings at Casino Queen, East St. Louis
  • Par-A-Dice, East Peoria (FanDuel)
  • FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing in Collinsville (FanDuel)
  • PointsBet at Hawthorne Race Course, Stickney
  • Argosy Casino, Alton (Barstool)
  • Hollywood Casino, Joliet (Barstool)

At present, Chicago does not have any physical sportsbooks. However, this is set to change soon. A DraftKings Sportsbook linked to Wrigley Field is projected to open in 2023. Furthermore, a FanDuel Sportsbook at the United Center is also anticipated to commence operations this year.

March Madness a joyous time for Illinois sportsbooks

Sports bettors and gaming operators alike are big fans of the NCAA Tournament.

The previous year was notably robust as from March 5, 2022, Illinois residents could register with a sportsbook using their phones or computers. This was a significant change from the past when they were required to physically present themselves to establish a mobile sports betting account with their preferred operator.

According to the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), the enhanced convenience for new users led to Illinois sportsbooks generating a handle of $286.2 million from the 2022 men’s and women’s tournaments.

IL sportsbooks netted $14.2 million in profits from those bets. Out of those profits, $2.1 million was paid in taxes to the state.

Should Illinois sports punters have the opportunity to place online bets on Illinois and Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament, it could potentially exceed existing totals. However, this would likely necessitate occasional victories from either of the schools, something which has not been the case for quite some time.

Photo by Rebecca S. Gratz / AP Photo
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Matt Boecker

Matt Boecker, a Chicago native, is a 2020 alumnus of Northern Illinois University. He possesses expertise in covering sports betting and legalization. He is often described by his previous teammates and colleagues as a friendly individual who puts in great effort and harbors a deep passion for the game.

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