Illinois Somehow Makes Sports Betting Law Worse With Latest In-Person Gaffe

Posted on June 1, 2021
Illinois sports betting
Posted By on June 1, 2021

Legislators appear to be doubling down on bad Illinois sports betting law that includes in-person requirements.

The House passed SB 521 with a few amendments as the state’s legislature went into overtime Tuesday. One of those amendments sets up a trial run for betting on in-state colleges until July 2023.

That sounds positive, right? It appears to be – until all the details are digested.

The IL sports betting amendment only allows betting on in-state colleges in-person at retail sportsbooks.

The bill returns to the Senate to get approval on the amendments before heading to the desk of Gov. JB Pritzker, who ended his executive order allowing remote registration in April. The Illinois market thrived throughout the second half of 2021 while its ill-conceived signup requirement was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Only pregame bets in Illinois sports betting change

Maybe some sports bettors in Illinois are happy enough to have in-state betting that they will head to a retail book. If they do not understand the full amendment, though, they might be disappointed once they arrive.

The amendment specifically states only Tier 1 wagers are allowed on in-state colleges. Those are defined as bets that only rely on the final score of a game to be decided and are placed before the game starts.

That means no prop bets of any sort on Illinois colleges within the state’s borders. Bettors will still have to hit the offshore sites or head east to Indiana or west to Iowa to place those bets.

The current ban on college betting in Illinois is limiting the market by up to 15%, John Pappas of iDEA Growth told a House committee in April. Because of the in-person requirement and betting limitations, though, these changes are unlikely to lead to any significant handle uptick.

Retail not a huge part of Illinois market

Retail sports betting is rarely popular in large states with multiple online sportsbook options. Illinois is no exception.

Of the $297.7 million tier 1 wagers placed in March, just $16 million, or 5.4%, were placed in retail sportsbooks. All retail handle totaled $24.6 million in March, good for just 3.9% of the $633.6 million bet in Illinois.

March numbers are the most recent from Illinois so there is no data yet on how in-person registration has impacted retail betting.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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