Time Is Running out on Legal Sports Betting in Illinois for 2019

Before a gambling expansion bill that would legalize sports betting goes to lawmakers for a vote in Illinois, further negotiations are required. Representative Robert Rita (D-Blue Island), who sponsored the bill and is a key negotiator for it, said on Sunday that they need to carry out more negotiations, but he is confident that they can come to an agreement that will expand the number of casinos permitted in the state and legalize sports betting.

Stakeholders and lawmakers continued their talks on Monday with no major decisions made. The main bone of contention has been the penalty box issue, which would delay FanDuel and DraftKings’ entry into the mobile market by three years. Other outstanding issues include fees, tax rate, whether or not to include an integrity fee, if mobile betting will be included, and the use of official league data. The question now becomes whether or not they can pass a bill before the session ends on Friday.

Two Sports Betting Bills

There are actually two ways for sports betting to become legal in Illinois: SB 516, which was the one filed by Senator Rita, and HB 1260, which originated as a bingo and tax bill. HB 1260 was set for a second reading , but that didn’t happen. If it doesn’t go for a second reading, it will be considered dead since it won’t have time to get through the Senate before that session ends.

SB 516 Details

The bill put forward by Senator Rita started out as a casino bill. On Monday, legislators stripped away most of the original language and is now a shell bill that could include sports betting language once they decide upon the key issues. This bill passed out of Executive Committee and will have a second reading.

The bill will allow for riverboat casinos in Lake County, Rockford, Southern Illinois, and Danville, and a land-based casino in Chicago. If the bill moves forward it would mean that it’s likely that sports betting will be included within a bigger gambling package.

Amendment 3

Amendment 3 has been going around in Springfield since last week and gets rid of the penalty box issue; it would make all mobile vendors wait 18 months to launch after the bill becomes law. This amendment could have language transferred into either bill this week. Just a few of the highlights from Amendment 3 include:

  • Licensing fees would be $25 million for “master licenses” (online only); $10 million for sports betting licenses for sports venues; $5 million per skin, and 5% of adjusted gross revenue for horse tracks and riverboats.
  • Tax would be set at 20% of adjusted gross revenue.
  • Sports gambling would be allowed at horse tracks and on riverboats, and any facility could apply for one online skin.
  • Big sports facilities would be permitted to operate a sportsbook either on-site or within a five-block radius.
  • Two standalone online casino licenses would be available for purchase and could be launched 18 months after the bill became law.
  • The bill would make it illegal to bet on Illinois Minor League and college team games.

The incredibly expensive fees are one major issue that has to be resolved before this goes any further.

Will Illinois Legalize Sports Betting in 2019?

This is the multimillion-dollar question. And it appears that the odds are against Illinois joining the ranks of states that have legal sports betting within their borders. With time running out, state leaders are still trying to hash out the details of a very comprehensive sports betting framework. More than likely, sports betting proponents are going to have to wait until 2020 before Illinois allows legal sports betting in the state.

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Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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