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Illinois Sports Betting

Editor’s note: As of Jan. 13, 2021

When the Illinois sports betting bill was passed on June 2, 2019, the initial hope was that retail wagers would begin by the start of the NFL season in September. It didn’t.

At last it appears momentum is building for betting with operators able to apply for licenses beginning Dec. 19, 2019 and the first legal wager in the state took place on March 9, 2020.

In October 2019, public comments on potential rules regulating the industry in Illinois were released to the public and it showed some residents are getting restless. “Don’t try and reinvent the wheel,” said one. “There should be no reason why this is taking so long to get set up. Let’s go so I can bet the NCAA tourney,” said another.

More than one commenter said the lack of rollout was forcing them to take their business next-door to Iowa or Indiana. “Wasted revenue the state will never get back,” a man wrote.

When betting does launch it will be at state casinos and horse racing tracks and betting kiosks/windows at some of the larger sporting venues such as Soldier Field (home of NFL’s Bears), Wrigley Field (MLB’s Cubs), Guaranteed Rate Field (MLB’s White Sox) and the United Center (NBA’s Bulls and NHL’s Blackhawks).

Also notable about Illinois sports wagering is the “penalty box” that puts behemoths FanDuel and DraftKings on the sidelines for 18 months to give casino mobile apps a chance to get a toehold before the big boys are allowed to play.  The two fantasy players can team with a casino but the sportsbook would be branded by its brick-and-mortar partner. “Just because one casino operator has a grudge against DraftKings doesn’t mean we all should suffer,” said a commenter.

Illinois Betting Offers

There will only be three mobile-only licenses issued at $20 million apiece.

The Illinois gambling expansion bill also provides the go ahead for six new casinos in the state including the first in Chicago, expected to open in three years. There also will be a pilot program allowing bettors to place parlay bets at electronic terminals in up to 2,500 lottery retailers in the state. Delaware has a similar parlay-betting component.

Is sports betting currently legal in the state?

Yes, Gov. J.B Pritzker signed the bill into law on June 28, 2019.

When did Illinois start accepting bets?

March 9, 2020.

What is the legal age to bet on sports in Illinois?

Bettors must be 21 years old.

What restrictions are there on sports betting in the state … is online wagering allowed?

For the first 18 months, bettors were set to have to pay a visit to a casino to register in person with valid ID before placing their first wager. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this was waived by Gov. JB Pritzker in June 2020.

Placing wagers on in-state colleges is off limits. Athletic directors of several schools talked with lawmakers earlier in the year about student athletes becoming targets of those wanting to alter game’s outcome. So, no wagers on the Illinois Fighting Illini or Northwestern Wildcats, among others.

Where can you open an account in Illinois?

Accounts can be setup in-person or temporarily online.

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