Current state law allows only retail sportsbooks in Illinois — not their mobile counterparts — to accept wagers involving colleges in the state. The in-person bets can only be Tier 1 wagers, which are pre-game bets involving the moneyline, spread, or total.
The law covering the bets was set to expire July 1, and the Senate voted Wednesday to extend the restricted in-state betting to July 1, 2024. The vote came through concurrence with a House floor amendment to Senate Bill 0089.
Rep. Bob Rita, who often serves as the point legislator for gaming bills in Illinois, submitted the amendment to SB 0089 last Friday. It received unanimous approval by the Rules and Executive committees and then by the full House, sending the measure back to the Senate for concurrence.
Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton became the chief sponsor of SB 0089 in the upper chamber Wednesday, when Rita’s amendment was one of three in the bill sent to the State Government Committee. It came out of that committee by a 6-3 margin and then received a unanimous 54-0 vote in the Senate.
The bill will now go to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker for his signature.
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Is it a placeholder for something better?
The present law with restrictions represents a middle ground brokered by former Rep. Mike Zalewski between sports wagering operators who wanted to remove the in-state carveout and schools that wanted it kept in place. The Illinois Gaming Board does not provide handle and revenue breakouts by college-specific sports, but Tier 1 wagering on collegiate events at the state’s nine retail sportsbooks totaled $48.1 million in 2022.
That was an increase of 32.1% compared to 2021, with bettors last year able to wager on three 2022 NCAA Tournament games. Even with Illinois playing its bowl game Jan. 2 and both the lllini and Northwestern playing a combined three NCAA Tournament games in March, Tier 1 handle for the first three months of this year was close to $20.8 million, down 6.8% from the same period in 2022.
Handle for all college sports wagering in Illinois totaled close to $1.4 billion in 2022, with $890.3 million of that classified as Tier 1 wagers. That was a 29% increase from 2021, when $690.1 million of the nearly $1.2 billion worth of accepted bets came in pre-game markets.
Rep. Jonathan Carroll filed HB 4041 last month, which would remove the in-person requirement for wagering on Illinois-based schools. That bill is on first reading status in the House Rules Committee and is not expected to move forward in this Assembly session, as lawmakers are focused on the proposed $50 billion state budget that was unveiled Wednesday.