Illinois Still Targeting March Madness For Legal Sports Betting Launch

Written By Tyler Duke on February 14, 2020
Illinois sports betting launch

The legalization of sports betting in Illinois did not occur in time for the Super Bowl, according to Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune. However, there is a high probability that sportsbooks will be operational by March Madness.

This is beneficial for business. The American Gaming Association anticipates over $8.5 billion will be staked on the NCAA Tournament, potentially making it the country’s biggest betting event. In contrast, the Super Bowl forecasted a $6.8 billion bet, while other significant events fall short of the March Madness figure for various reasons. Due to the tournament’s duration and the public’s general interest, Illinois sportsbooks could initiate legal betting in the state significantly with a March Madness launch.

reviewing applications for entertainment boards

Channick reports that on January 23, the Illinois Gaming Board proposed regulations for operations. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Grand Victoria in Elgin, Alton, and Argosy all filed applications for sports betting licenses. In a meeting held on January 30, the panel unanimously ratified these regulations, providing clear guidelines for both casinos and bettors.

The game board is assessing the software and plans to provide temporary operating permits to casinos, enabling them to begin operations as soon as they are ready. This information was shared with Channick by the table executive, Marcus Fruchter.

The introduction of sportsbooks will also enable Illinois residents to participate in online gambling. However, Channick expects this to occur after the games begin. The 2019 Illinois Sports Wagering Act provides an opportunity for Illinois’s seven large sports venues, three horse tracks, and ten casinos to acquire licenses for sports betting. Channick also notes that three online-only casinos may secure licenses 18 weeks after the first on-site registration is approved.

The initiation of casino software procedures took place in December, possibly facilitating an earlier commencement than the current date. Nevertheless, Channick states that applicants held off on applying until the operational regulations were in place. He also communicated with several sources who predicted the second casinos would be ready to open in time for the NCAA Tournament in March.

The goal is still March Madness.

Mike Zalewski, a representative from Riverside, Illinois, was one of the key figures who contributed to the passage of sports betting legislation in the state. In a conversation with Channick, Zalewski mentioned that the three games most likely to be ready for March Madness are those that have already submitted their software.

He continued, expressing a strong sense of optimism that they would be prepared to place bets by March Madness. Considering our current position on the timeline, he added, “That’s a reasonable goal.”

Channick and Corey Wise, the standard manager of Rivers Casino, had a conversation about the casino’s readiness in a timely manner. To prepare, Rivers Casino launched a BetRivers SportsBar in December.

According to Wise, Rivers is making efforts to launch its BetRivers Sportsbook as soon as possible.

Channick reports that the Illinois gaming board is currently examining 10 applications for five out of the six new casino licenses provided by the state’s gambling expansion law. However, a fifth casino in Chicago is on hold due to gaming tax laws.

Candidates in cities south of Chicago, including Calumet City, Homewood, Matteson, and Lynwood, are striving to open casinos. The game board is tasked with reviewing and selecting the recipients of the five available licenses within a year from the application deadline of Oct. 28. Other places in Illinois, such as Rockford, Waukegan, Williamson County, and Danville, also have similar programs.

Illinois residents who wish to place a bet on a local school in the NCAA Tournament might have several options. With an 8-5 record in the Big Ten, Illinois is having a strong season and is likely to receive an at-large bid. Loyola, Southern Illinois, and Bradley, standing second, third, and fourth in the Missouri Valley conference respectively, would require a conference tournament championship to secure an automatic bid into March Madness. DePaul and Northwestern, with a combined conference record of 2-22, have had a challenging season. Northern Illinois, currently leading the MAC West, also needs a conference tournament victory for an automatic bid.

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Duke, Tyler

Tyler Duke, a graduate of Kennesaw State in 2017, resides in Atlanta, GA. With six years of journalism under his belt, he has reported on the Braves, Hawks, and Georgia Tech for organizations such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fox Sports South, and SB Nation. Since 2018, Duke has been producing content for the PGA Tour.

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