sports betting

RIVERS CASINO

Legalized sports betting has officially launched in Illinois. This week, a casino in suburban Chicago opened the state’s first place for gamblers to legally bet on professional sports games. But rolling out Illinois’ sports books has been a slow-going process, and uncertainty remains about how much revenue the practice will end up generating for an already cash-strapped state. For this week’s Illinois Issues report, I explored what’s happening in the wide world of Illinois sports wagering.

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An Illinois legislator says the state’s new gambling expansion bill needs to be cleaned up.

The state’s recent gambling expansion authorized the construction of six new casinos and legalized practices like sports gambling. Illinois State Representative Jeff Keicher says the law is vague over how legalized sports betting will work, such as how people can bet on specific sports. He hopes the General Assembly can clear that up.

Peter Medlin

Illinois state representatives from both sides of the aisle came to Northern Illinois University this week. They fielded student questions, debated state budget issues and discussed the challenges of the political process.

The Illinois House of Representatives boasts dozens more Democrats than Republicans. But Representatives from both parties said they were encouraged by bipartisan action they saw when working on the budget.

Illinois brought in more tax money from gambling in the fiscal year that ended in June. That’s just one of several highlights from a new report released Monday.


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The Illinois Gaming Board is seeking input on sports betting in the state, which was legalized this year.

It wants to use the comments to shape future regulations. Both the gambling industry and members of the public are encouraged to express their concerns. Former Winnebago County Board Member John Ekberg is part of the latter group. He suggested this course of action at a meeting of concerned citizens in Rockford last month. 

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Legalized sports betting will soon come to Illinois as part of the state's new gambling expansion law.

Sports wagering is nothing new. But in the U.S., the practice has generally been illegal outside of a few specific venues. That changed last year when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. It allows states to legalize sports betting.

In Illinois, there are several companies eager to enter the market. But casinos lobbied hard against allowing them unfettered access. State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) explains.

Chase Cavanaugh

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill at the end of June that allows six new casinos and legalizes sports betting. Rockford is the site of one such casino, and it could significantly contribute to local and state revenue.

A comprehensive gambling bill has been a repeated priority in the state legislature for several years. One of its biggest supporters has been Republican State Sen. Dave Syverson. He says a major concern is gambling dollars being lost to surrounding states. 

With only four days left in the Illinois legislative session, some lawmakers say they are ready to move forward with a gambling expansion proposal.  But many others have pressing questions about diversity and business opportunities — one of several issues left to be worked out before the end of session May 31. 

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Budget

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker introduced his freshman budget this winter, he proposed a range of new or increased taxes. It was intended to let Illinois government hobble through next year’s budget on its way to a graduated income tax.

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states outside of Nevada to set up their own sports betting rules, some experts are offering Illinois lawmakers tips as a final proposal is drafted. 

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March Madness fans in Illinois could not legally bet on Monday’s championship game. But that could change for next year’s tournament under a few proposals at the statehouse.

Right now, the only way to legally wager on a big game is to hop on a plane to Vegas.

But a U.S. Supreme Court decision expected this month could open the door to states legalizing sports betting—both in-person and online.

An industry study says earnings could total 681 million dollars—yielding just tens of millions in tax revenue.