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Illinois Sports Betting in Race to Hit March Madness

February 18, 2020

After missing the opportunity to wager legally on the 2020 Super Bowl, sports bettors in Illinois are growing a little anxious. With college Basketball's March Madness sitting three weeks away, the pressure in on the state's sports betting operators to finally bring sports betting access to a wanting public.

For more that 8 months now, legislation has been in place to allow Illinois residents to wager legally on sports events in the US and around the world. As is always the case, it's takes times for lawmakers and sports betting operators to get the appropriate sports betting facilities in place.

After spending more that six months accepting applications from prospective bookmakers, the Illinois Casino Gaming Association has finally issued temporary licensing to the following sports betting operators: Argosy Casino Alton – Penn National, Grand Victoria Casino Elgin – Eldorado and Rivers Casino Des Plaines – Rivers.

In spite of the fact these three operators have preliminary approval to start accepting sports wagers from bettors located in the state of Illinois, it's not clear if any of them have enough time to meet the March Madness deadline. With so much potential gambling and tax revenue on the line, it's a good bet that all interested parties will be pushing to succeed.

According to Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, in a press release: “I think you’ll see something up and running before March Madness, at least at these three facilities.”

At this point, legislators have done their part. The pressure falls directly on the casinos and their affiliated bookmakers to hit the deadline. At issue is a lot of internal red tape that needs to be addressed with the biggest issue being compliance. To be compliant with existing laws, each operator will need to go through rigorous testing on internal control systems and the affiliated software platforms.

Joe Miller, director of policy at the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) makes clear where the responsibility lies now: "we’ve given them the tools, and now they can finish the job.”

Assuming operators hit the target, Illinois sports bettor should be able to bet on the first round of the March Madness college basketball tournament. That encompasses 66 teams competing in two play in games and a first round that includes 64 teams playing 32 games in four different brackets.

While the Super Bowl brings in more gambling revenue for a single event, March Madness holds that distinction for sports tournaments.


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