An Illinois responsible gambling bill, which would require online sports wagering operators to show a pop-up message directing customers to a website with resources for gambling addiction assistance after every 10 wagers placed, passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday. The bill is on track for a full vote in the Senate.
SB 1508, proposed by state Sen. Bill Cunningham, would add an additional level of responsible gambling information beyond what is required by law in both the Sports Wagering Act and Administrative Code. The Sports Wagering Act was part of a massive gambling expansion bill signed into law in June 2019 that legalized sports wagering in the state.
Illinois currently requires operators to display a statement on their websites regarding how to obtain assistance to deal with gambling problems.
“Illinois has been a leader in the regulation of sports betting, and we need to ensure that we are also addressing the potential harms associated with gambling addiction,” said Cunningham, whose constituency includes portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs of the city. “By requiring sports wagering apps to display a pop-up message with resources for gambling addiction assistance, we can help individuals who may be struggling with problem gambling access the help they need.”
Illinois is a top-five market nationally for sports wagering handle, with operators accepting $9.7 billion in wagers in 2022 and $18.7 billion since the first bets were placed in March 2020. Nearly $9.4 billion of the handle last year in Illinois — 96% — came via online and mobile wagering, and Illinois surpassed $1 billion handle in each month from October through December.
March a month of online operator additions
— Nicasa Behavioral Health Services (@NicasaBHS) January 17, 2023
Cunningham’s bill comes at a time when the Illinois Gaming Board has been adding to the number of mobile platforms available for bettors. In each of the last two years, the state agency has approved one mobile operator — Barstool Sportsbook in 2021 and BetMGM in 2022 — to launch just prior to the NCAA Tournament.
Applications from five online operators are currently being reviewed for the Management Services Provider license required to conduct mobile wagering: WynnBET, Circa Sports, Bally Bet, Hard Rock Sportsbook, and Unibet. There is no guarantee, however, that the IGB will approve any of them. The state agency is scheduled to next meet March 16, the same day the NCAA Tournament opens round-of-64 play.
In June, the Illinois Department of Public Health released a report estimating 3.8% of adult residents may have behavioral patterns and tendencies that lead to problem gambling. The study estimated that nearly 383,000 adults in the state may have a gambling problem, with nearly double that amount potentially at risk to develop a problem.
Illinois budgeted $10 million for problem gambling in fiscal year 2023, with some of that going toward its “Are You Really Winning?” ad campaign that directs those who think they may have problems to access the state’s helplines (1-800-GAMBLER, or texting GAMB to 833234)
“Problem gambling can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families, and we need to do everything we can to prevent and address it,” Cunningham said. “Illinois will continue to be a leader in the modern sports gambling industry and we need to make sure that those who need help won’t have to ask how to find it.”