Updated: Illinois House OKs Limited Betting On In-State College Teams

Written By Joe Boozell on June 1, 2021Last Updated on June 2, 2021
illinois college betting bill

The Illinois House of Representatives passed SB 521, which repeals the in-state school sports betting ban, early on Tuesday night.

The bill now needs Senate approval before it can progress to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker for his final signature. SB 521 secured massive support in the House, passing with a 96-11 vote count.

The second potential vote will occur when the Senate reconvenes to address unfinished matters, as the bill wasn’t debated in Tuesday’s Senate session. Considering its support in the House, there’s a high chance that SB 521 will be presented before the fall.

It may be disappointing to learn that the bill only permits in-person betting on Illinois college teams. Such bets can be placed at Illinois games, racetracks, or off-track betting websites, but not through wireless devices.

Online betting on school activities is allowed in both Iowa and Indiana.

The bill permits only “Tier 1” bets. These are wagers based exclusively on the final score or result of the sports event and are placed prior to the start of the event. This means that player props and live betting are not included. It’s worth noting that the exclusion of collegiate player props is a common practice in states where sports betting is legal.

As the act is set to expire on July 1, 2023, it will essentially serve as a trial period. Should everything proceed as planned, legislators may then be more open to the possibility of permitting online betting for in-state schools.

Where was I place a wager on school teams in Illinois?

Currently, Illinois boasts nearly twelve retail sportsbooks and six online sportsbooks. These include:

  • Alton Argosy Casino
  • Crestwood Club & Hawthorne
  • Hawthorne Oak Brook Club
  • Queen at the East St. Louis game on DraftKings.
  • FanDuel Sportsbook & Amp Horse Racing in Collinsville
  • Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin
  • Hawthorne Race Course (Stickney)
  • Aurora Hollywood Casino
  • Hollywood Casino Joliet
  • Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria
  • Grill (Prospect Heights), Player’s,
  • Des Plaines’ Rivers Casino

Should the bill be approved, it would allow Illinois bettors to place bets on college teams like Northwestern, Illinois, and Northern Illinois in time for the fall college football season.

What else does SB 521 contain?

The only gaming element in SB 521 is betting on in-state college sports, n & rsquo.

Thanks to the bill, Wintrust Arena, located in Chicago’s South Loop and home to the Chicago Sky of the WNBA and the DePaul Blue Demons, could secure a sports betting permit.

Currently, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has not issued any licenses to sports venues. However, Wrigley Field intends to apply for one, given its existing partnership with DraftKings to establish a retail sportsbook at the park.

Wrigley and DraftKings, however, have not yet sent a request to the IGB.

Furthermore, the bill incorporates several maintenance items for video gaming terminals (VGTs), casinos, horse racing, and sports betting.

What & rsquo, is SB 521 not included?

Despite legal sports betting advocates being pleased with the minimal shift towards in-state college wager policy, there were still several significant items remaining from the gambling budget.

The act encompasses all aspects of online gambling, which is to be expected considering how the process has evolved in recent weeks.

Several weeks ago, legislators proposed a bill calling for a report on the potential revenue that could have been generated from online casino gaming if it had been legalized before the COVID-19 pandemic. The set deadline for the report, October 1, 2021, strongly indicates that the legalization of online casino in Illinois was not going to occur during this legislative session.

The bill does not address the requirement for in-person sports betting registration. Moreover, Illinois lawmakers are further emphasizing in-person betting, linking it to wagering on in-state colleges.

Therefore, it appears that in-person registration will persist at least until early 2022. Once the IGB is able to issue a mobile-only license, it would enable everyone to sign up online.

Naturally, this hinges on someone applying for a mobile-only license, which isn’t a certainty considering they make $20 million per month.

supporters and opponents of in-state school bets in Illinois

State Representative Michael J. Zalewski spearheaded the movement to legalize betting on in-state college games in Illinois. His original plan also included online betting, but that part of the bill did not survive the legislative session.

Legislation champion, State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, also co-sponsored Zalewski’s original bill and expressed his support for legalization at an April House Executive Committee Hearing.

Who primarily opposed legal in-state school bets in Illinois? The sports managers of Division I universities.

At that reading, Josh Whitman, the chairman of Illinois Athletics, gave testimony on behalf of all 13 D1 athletic executives.

Here’s a passage from:

Student athletes are often absorbed with their phones, with their opinions about people they’ve never met on social media forming the basis for their own self-perceptions and ideas. This is a daily struggle in the modern world of college sports. By permitting individuals in our state to bet on our own student athletes, we are simply opening the door for them to engage in intense, threatening, and abusive interactions with our student athletes. This is something that I, along with my colleagues, strongly oppose.

Ultimately, it seems that a temporary bargain will be available, with a real opportunity for in-state college sports gambling on websites emerging in the future.

Pictures taken from an AP report
Boozell, Joe Avatar
authored by

Boozell, Joe

Joe Boozell has been a writer for college sports on NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also been featured on platforms like Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com, and NBA.com. As a young man, Boozell played basketball in Chicago against the likes of Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky. One can only imagine how those games played out.

View all posts by Boozell, Joe