9th state to legalize
The Senate in Illinois gave their seal of approval to legal sports betting on the final day of the legislative session. Senate Bill 690 was voted through by a vote of 46-10. The House had given it their approval the previous day.
This means that Illinois is now the latest state to have made sports betting legal. Online sports betting will now be allowed in the state, whether racetracks, casinos or sporting arenas like Soldier Field and Wrigley Field.
One of the promoters of the bill was Representative Mike Zalewski and he professed his delight for its passage. He said: “Today is the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work, determination and teamwork behind a vision for entertainment and economic opportunity in Illinois.”
Governor JB Pritzker was a supporter of this bill and he will likely sign it into law in the coming weeks. He included a sum of $200m revenue from sports betting in his 2020 budget proposal. Pritzker went into detail as to what legal sports betting may look like in this regard. He envisioned 20 licenses being available, permitting both retail and online sports betting, and a tax rate of about 20% on revenues.
Sporting venues that can seat at least 17,000 people will be able to apply for a master license for sports betting. This means they will be able to offer sports betting within a five-mile radius from their venue. A license will be for a term of four years, with the initial cost to acquire it being $10m. The bill does not permit betting on events involving schools in the state.
But there are caveats
While the likes of the MLB and the NBA were using lobbyists to press hard in the state for the inclusion of an integrity fee, there was none in the final draft of the bill. All operators in the state for sports betting will have to buy an official data package from the major sports leagues. This is mainly for those bets that are made after an event has began.
There is also a caveat in the bill whereby companies already in the online sports betting space, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, will have to conduct operations via one of Illinois’ casinos for the first 18 months.
The bill also has a provision to open more casinos in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. In total, there will be six new casinos and racetracks will also be able to offer slot machines and table games.
Other niche aspects of the bill include increasing the tax rate for video poker and ensuring a minimum number of hires in the gambling industry by companies. Operators will have to aim for diversity when hiring.
This capital bill has been a long time coming. Its various taxes aim to garner an additional $12bn for the state in the coming years.