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Illinois sports betting bill clears legislature after last minute push


The Illinois House and Senate have both voted through a wide-ranging gambling expansion bill, which includes measures to legalize sports betting in the US state.

Senate Bill 690, which originally focused on changes to property tax rates, has been expanded significantly through a number of amendments, including Representative Robert Rita’s Sports Wagering Act. 

This sets out plans to permit sports wagering and existing and new casinos in Illinois, as well as at racetracks and online. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 87-27 on Saturday, while the House on Sunday followed with an approval vote of 46-10.

The bill will now move forward to Governor J.B. Pritzker for signature later this month. Pritzker has previously spoken publicly about his support for gambling expansion in Illinois and is widely expected to sign off on the bill.

SB 690 enables the Illinois Gaming Board to issue six different types of licenses to operators seeking to offer sports betting in the state: a master sports wagering license, occupational license, supplier license, management services provider license, tier two official league data provider licence, and central system provider license.

Each license will be applicable to a certain service or offering in the state, with the fee for a master license to be set at 5% of the holder’s total handle from the following calendar year, up to a maximum of $10m.

Master licenses will run for four years and can be extended at the end of this initial period for a further four years, at a cost of $1m to the holder. This type of license will cover in-person betting, as well as mobile and online wagering.

Operators that secure a master license will be subject to a tax rate of 15% on their adjusted gross sports wagering receipts, payable on a monthly basis. All taxes collected will be deposited into the Sports Wagering Fund, which will be created as part of the bill.

The bill also sets out a number of responsible gambling measures that licensees will be permitted to adhere to. These include integrating with a self-exclusion program that consumers can voluntarily sign up to if they wish to remove themselves from gambling.

While the bill does not include language related to a so-called integrity fee for sport leagues, there is a requirement for operators to only use official data supplied by professional leagues and colleges.

There are also measures that will enable both professional leagues and colleges to implement certain restrictions on the bets that can be placed on their competitions, as well as a blanket ban on betting on Illinois-based college teams.

In addition, there is a restriction in terms of registering for online sports betting, with consumers required to sign up at land-based venues for the first 18 months after the bill comes into effect.

Aside from sports betting, the bill includes a host of other measures to expand gambling in the state, such as measures to permit six new casinos to open, including one in Chicago.

The bill seemingly concludes what has been a rocky road for Illinois attempting to legalise sports betting. Efforts were originally centred around House Bill 3308, filed by Representative Michael Zalewski, before shifting to HB1260 as debate over issues such as integrity fees, official data use and license fees slowed each down. 

When time became so short that neither of these bills had time to progress through the legislature, the focus shifted to amending an existing bill that had already made progress through the House and Senate. 

This was originally expected to see SB516 become the vehicle used to pass legislation, until this shifted to SB690 on May 31.