Opinion: Passing No Bill Would Be Better Than The Illinois Bill
Legal Sports Report

A Dear John Letter To Illinois And America’s Worst Sports Betting Bill

Illinois sports betting

Dearest Illinois,

It’s not you, it’s me.

Well … that’s not entirely true. It’s totally you.

By the time you read this letter I’ll be gone, set off into my wistful thoughts of how the Illinois sports betting process went from delight to disaster in the final days of the legislative session. Year after year, I want us to do this differently but we never do.

Bad actor penalties, $25 million licenses, and mandated official league data mixed together make me feel like you don’t know what you want. First, you say five amendments. Then it’s just two, and suddenly now you’re trying to make everyone happy with this last creation.

You crafted a bill that looks like someone handed Mr. Potato Head to a 3-year-old: none of the pieces fit where they sit and the unsightly whole perfectly reflects the sum of its miscast parts.

Illinois baby, where did we go so wrong?

You see, what had happened to sports betting was …

You never really got over your ex, did you? I know you broke up in 2015 but you still seem hung up on DraftKings and FanDuel.

Was it really worth trying to force them to wait three years to get into sports betting in Illinois? You made the two most successful legal sports betting operators of the past year so mad they threatened to sue and spent $1 million to put you on blast.

I’m not so sure about this compromise you want either. Punishing the other operators by making them wait a year and a half to start mobile Illinois sports betting because of what you think DraftKings and FanDuel did wrong? Like, is that even legal?

Don’t be so extra, Illinois. You’re better than locking away your heart and your licenses for so long.

And these IL sports betting license fees … yikes

I really need to leave now but first, can I just ask you how you came up with these wacky license fees?

It’s $25 million for online operators … so here we go with DraftKings and FanDuel again, huh? And then $20 million for the lottery provider, $10 million for sports facilities, and $5 million for casinos and tracks?

I always hated when you tried to one-up your friends. I know, you’re tired of me talking about Pennsylvania sports betting, but even they only charged $10 million for a sports betting license. That is the most expensive license in the country and it’s what our governor asked for too.

Look, you’re the seventh-largest state in the country with your 13 million people. Our sweet home Chicago could blossom into one of the country’s most lucrative sports betting markets — if you let it.

We used to be Facebook ‘official’, but this?

The Illinois I fell in love with is independent and forward-thinking. Ever since you started hanging out with Tennessee, I wonder where that Illinois went.

Since when did you think mandating official league data to settle bets is a good idea? Oh right … not until Tennessee decided to do it first. I know you don’t want to admit that, but Rep. Mike Zalewski already told me it’s true.

No good relationship forces people to be with each other. They choose to build something, whether it’s a home or a commercial data agreement. Maybe if you stop trying to control so much, everyone might end up happier being together.

I can’t wait around to find out though. This bill just hurts too much.

It’s too late for us, Illinois

You might still pass the bill, who knows. It might even keep that 20% tax rate that you know is higher than everyone except Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Maybe you’ll ban betting on Illinois college teams or even dredge up that silly integrity fee some of your friends love so much. I even heard one of them call it a royalty, whatever that means.

Thanks for giving me a few months of hope for Illinois sports betting this year. I have to go but let me leave you one piece of advice about this sports betting bill: sometimes doing nothing is much better than doing something.

Yours always,
Adam

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV. He can be reached at [email protected]
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