The state of Illinois signed a sports betting bill into law last June, but the state struggled mightily in getting their industry up and running. The Illinois Gaming Board took months developing sports betting license applications and took even longer reviewing them.
The Illinois Gaming Board finally had three licenses approved by the start of March, and sports betting officially kicked off on March 9.
Illinois, like many other states around the country, has now closed its casinos and sportsbooks through the month of April. While other states will wait until sports return to reopen their sportsbooks, Illinois is using this time to approve some more rules to help regulate the new industry.
The Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) will use the next few weeks to look at the phase two betting rules that have been submitted by the Illinois Gaming Board. The set of rules were approved after a short reading by the Illinois Gaming Board and will now head to the Secretary of State for another review.
The hope is that these rules will become official at some point in April, but it could drag out into the summer. Illinois state legislators are currently not in session, as the state is under a mandatory stay-at-home order.
There is a chance that the JCAR could discuss these rules in a virtual setting, but a vote seems unlikely until a face-to-face meeting is held.
Another issue that will need to be addressed is reviewing the four applications submitted to be a sports betting operator in the state. FanDuel Sportsbook is one of these four applications and has had previous legal battles with the state, but it is in the process of purchasing a race track in the state to operate sports betting.
One of the most important phase two rules is the power that it gives the Illinois Gaming Board in issuing licenses. The IGB can give licenses to the operators that will bring in the most money to the state, as Illinois is in desperate need of some revenue.
Illinois has placed a 25% tax rate on all bets made at sportsbooks, which is the highest tax rate in the country. They also have extremely high licensing fees, but companies are still lining up to get into the market in the state.
Illinois is projecting $200 million in annual tax revenue from sports betting, but their 2020 numbers will be much lower due to the coronavirus pandemic.
First Three Sportsbooks Already in Place
When the state of Illinois launched sports betting on March 9, there were three casinos that were ready to begin offering bets on sports. The state of Illinois chose the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines as the first casino able to offer bets on sports, and they held a small ceremony on that date.
Chicago Blackhawks analyst Eddie Olcyzk made the first legal wager in the state, a bet on the Chicago White Sox to win the American League Pennant.
Rivers Casino in Des Plaines had already built their BetRivers Sportsbook, and that is where all betting in the state was set to take place. A pair of other locations were given the approval to open up on March 16, but that never came to fruition.
The Argosy Casino in Alton and the Hollywood Casino in Joliet were next in line to offer sports bets before everything was shut down. Three other casinos submitted sports betting licenses, but those were still under review at the time of the initial launch.
The Illinois Gaming Board has stated that there could be as many as seven sportsbooks when the industry is relaunched.