What Happened To Illinois Golf Betting Markets?

Posted on August 12, 2020 - Last Updated on August 13, 2020

Illinois sure isn’t making it easy for locals to partake in the regulated sports betting market.

Not content with merely making customers increase their risk for coronavirus to sign up for a sportsbook app, the state also refuses to allow a popular sport for an unusual reason. That is why golf betting remains off the board across the state.

The problem, according to multiple industry sources, is a specific regulation concerned with integrity.

Specifically, IL sports betting rules require competitors to receive compensation “in excess of actual expenses for their participation in that event.” The theory is that as long as a competitor can pay their travel and accommodation fees, they won’t fix an event.

Bad news for golf bettors

Putting aside the wisdom of that rule, it causes significant problems in golf.

Firstly, players who don’t make the cut don’t make any money and don’t cover their expenses. Secondly, even if you do make the cut, the onus is on the bookmaker to ensure that the prize money covers a golfer’s expenses.

For instance, the 65th-place finisher at this weekend’s Wyndham Championship will receive just shy of $14,000.

Does that cover flights and accommodation for a golfer, his caddie, coach, trainers, and other staff? Well that’s on BetRivers, DraftKings, William Hill et al to ascertain for every golfer in the field where that might be in question.

How did we get here?

It’s worth pointing out that golf betting was offered for multiple weeks earlier this year in Illinois when the PGA Tour resumed. 

But last week’s PGA Championship – one of golf’s four major tournaments – was only available to bet sporadically. And BetRivers customer service staff told bettors that regulators recently changed their stance on the issue.

That said, at least one industry source was hopeful it was all “a misunderstanding that will be remedied”.After all, there are plenty of other ways to protect integrity that satisfy regulators in New Jersey, Nevada, and beyond.

When will Illinois golf betting return?

Indeed, IL sportsbooks have already requested that golf betting (and other sports) be reinstated. That happened on July 23 but the Illinois Gaming Board must wait 30 days before reacting. 

That puts August 22 as the potential return for Illinois golf betting – the same week that the PGA Tour rocks up in the state for the BMW Championship.

So, its an issue that should be resolved soon enough. But it’s also reflective of an Illinois market that can’t seem to get out of its own way.

Here’s hoping the teething troubles are sorted before NFL season rolls around.

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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