Illinois Sports Betting Comment Period Could Spotlight Issues With Bill

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Illinois sports betting

Industry dissatisfaction with the Sports Wagering Act could be part of the reason why the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) is seeking public comment before creating rules.

Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association (ICGA), tells Legal Sports Report that the comment period might not be necessary if the legislature had given the IGB a better blueprint on the new bill.

“I believe some of the legislators have egg on their faces to push this through so quickly,” Swoik said. “I think the whole legislative process is going to be looked at because this thing went through so fast at the end that there were things that could have been done and cleaned up that would have alleviated some of these difficulties.”

Swoik added that a comment period before making rules is unusual. The 30-day comment period closes Sept. 27. The IGB indicated it would post comments on its website in a timely manner.

Marcus Fruchter, the administrator of the IGB, told LSR:

“The purpose of our sports betting comment process is to afford all stakeholders – industry, the general public and others – a meaningful and equal opportunity to share with the IGB their views about proposed rules and other matters related to the implementation, regulation and administration of sports betting in Illinois.

“We will review and analyze all submissions at the end of the public comment period and, where appropriate, use the comments to inform our sports betting rules, procedures and policies.”

Surrounding states getting a head start

Swoik would still like to see the comment period lead to immediate rulemaking on Illinois sports betting, as it is falling behind other states.

“We’d certainly like to see it happen quickly, by the end of the year,” Swoik said. “There’s still a lot to get done.”

He expects the casino association’s comments to include asking for clarifications on reporting monthly earnings, and the dynamics and timing of taxing.

Neighboring Indiana and Iowa worked quickly on rules to launch sports betting by the beginning of the NFL betting season.

“Indiana and Iowa have already got their rules passed and are operating,” Swoik said. “I’m going to suggest that there’s a lot of new rules out there that already are fairly decent so we don’t necessarily need to recreate the wheel. We’re going to be able to use parts of those.”

Swoik pointed out that those states don’t have a requirement to use official league data, so those rules will need to be developed from scratch.

Illinois sports betting law might need fixes

Swoik and the ICGA have many problems with the Illinois sports betting bill and the overall Illinois gambling expansion package as a whole. However, few of those concerns can be fixed by the gaming board.

“I think it’s an opportunity to address some of the issues, but the things we were most nonsupportive of can’t be changed through the rule process,” Swoik said. “Things like the tax structure and licensing fees – those kinds of things aren’t going to be able to get changed by the rules.”

Swoik sees another reason for the delay of IL sports betting: The cost for sports betting licenses will limit the number of takers.

“I firmly believe they’re not going to get rid of all the sports wagering licenses at $10 million,” Swoik said.

Rep. Bob Rita, who led the efforts to get the bill passed at the end of the session, said he’s interested to hear what the industry feedback will be.

“I think what they’re doing is part of a process. It just gives another layer of openness and transparency as we move forward to role this out. In terms of implementing rules, the gaming board has some leeway. If people want any structural changes or changes to the intent of the law, it will have to go back to the legislature.”