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Illinois Trying to Right a Sports Betting Wrong or are They?

June 4, 2021

When the sports betting bill was passed in Illinois about a year ago, the state legislature thought it was a good idea to not allow bettors to bet on in-state college teams. A year later, it looks like the Illinois legislature is ready to change their collective minds with a new bill, or are they?

The new bill, SB 521, passed through the house this week with bipartisan support. According to the language in the bill, the ban against wagering on in-state colleges would be lifted. That's a major deal in a large state that supports major colleges like the University of Illinois, Northwestern, Illinois State, and Loyola Chicago.

Of course, nothing that comes out of the Illinois legislature comes out without some kind of controversy. There are in fact two issues that were created by the passing of this one bill.

First, bettors would not be allowed to wager on in-state college teams using online bookmakers. They would have to go to one of the state's live casinos that include retail sportsbooks. In a state where casinos wield a significant amount of power, it would seem curious that this new bill is seeking to force sports bettors to visit live casinos.

Second, another bill that would have allowed online casino gambling just seemed to lose steam. Again, the primary beneficiaries of this activity, or the lack thereof, would be the state's retail casinos. The online casino bill that lost steam was HB 3142, otherwise known as the Illinois Gaming Act.

In summary, it looks like Illinois sports bettors will be able to start betting on in-state college in the very near future. Unfortunately, it looks like bettors will have to bet on said teams in person should the current legislation get passed in its current form.


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