The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: Illinois’ Newest Sports Betting Rules

Written By Derek Helling on January 30, 2020Last Updated on February 4, 2020
Sports Betting Rules Create Several Problems For Illinois' Future

Illinois is working to make activities gambling legitimate. However, the most recent sports gambling regulations cast doubt on how well that method is progressing.

The 66 pages of draft regulations contain a mix of good, bad, and ugly elements. Regrettably, for the people of Illinois, the bad and ugly outweigh the good.

What & rsquo, in the most recent revision to the sports betting regulations, is good?

Among the legislations, some are particularly noteworthy. In the future, Illinois might offer its residents and visitors an authentic online sports betting experience.

The state plans to allow casinos to offer online betting and also license independent online sportsbooks operators who do not have a physical establishment. Despite the tax rate for sportsbooks being more than double in neighboring Iowa, it is less than half of Pennsylvania’s rate at 15%.

Another advantage of the current regulations is that they still allow sports venues to operate bookmakers. This increases the number of users, making it more accessible for fans to get events.

The perception of what is nice depends on the observer, as it does with many other things. To assess the value of Illinois’ regulations, they must be compared with laws in other states.

The comparison of that contrast with the Prairie State is not favorable. Several elements of the current regulations are just not acceptable.

Prohibited wagers and the requirement for in-person membership

Illinois casinos, potential or otherwise, are legally barred from accepting any bets on college athletes or teams within the state. This law effectively prevents wagering on teams from places like Bradley, Illinois, or Northwestern among others.

The fact that Illinois bettors are most interested in these teams is detrimental to the state. Instead of refraining from placing bets altogether, they are more likely to resort to using an offshore guide or crossing the border to Indiana or Iowa.

Illinois casinos won’t only be at a disadvantage due to that factor compared to casinos in neighboring states. The unpopular requirement for in-person membership still remains in Illinois.

This implies that gamblers must visit a physical place to finalize their registrations prior to initiating transactions with online sportsbooks. This is challenging because, as before, these restrictions do not apply to legal professionals in Indiana and offshore bookmakers.

The regulation exists in Iowa, but it will expire on January 1, 2021. Illinois residents living near the border may find it more advantageous to cross the Mississippi River and place their bets there.

This leads us to the uncomfortable facets of Illinois’ proposals. They don’t truly make much sense; they surpass being just unique.

Minimal operators, a waiting time, and operator damage

Illinois diverges from standard practice in another way by only allowing bookmakers with physical locations during the first year and beyond.

Furthermore, the bidding process for initial registration applications may be completely confidential. In such a scenario, it is unlikely that requests under the Freedom of Information Act will be approved.

The Illinois Gaming Board will not have the authority to contest licenses following the initial license awards. This restriction applies to standalone online sportsbook operators for a period of 420 days. This rule is not only specific to Illinois, but it also complicates the requirement for in-person registration.

Once the first online-only controller gets approved, there will no longer be a need for in-person registration. This suggests that this condition may last for a period of two or three years.

However, there may exist a principle that is even more repulsive than any of these.

The unquestionably ugly concept and potential outcomes

Professional sports leagues are allowed by many states to request casinos not to accept bets on certain occasions. For example, MLB could request no betting on spring training events.

However, Illinois’ rules allow sportsbook operators that privilege. Currently, no other role that allows legal sports betting has a similar regulation.

Think about a local sportsbook that is successful in placing bets on Chicago Red Stars games, to understand why this can be challenging. The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) could be requested by one or more of the sportsbook’s competitors to stop action on these matches.

Although the IGB isn’t obligated to grant that request, the advantage of having this rule in place isn’t apparent. However, its downside is evidently clear.

The most notable concern with the state’s latest sports betting regulations is that they may, at least for a while, put Illinois sportsbooks at risk in comparison to legitimate and illegal markets in neighboring states. My hope is that the IGB will address these issues before the laws are finalized.

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Helling Derek

Derek Helling is a prominent writer for PlayUSA and also oversees BetHer as the manager. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 2013 and his writings primarily focus on the intersection of sports with business and legal aspects.

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