Illinois okays sports betting bill with online-only time-out

TAGs: Illinois, sports betting

illinois-sports-betting-legislationIllinois sports bettors are celebrating after their notoriously incapable state pols somehow found the temporary cohesion to pass the necessary legislation.

On Sunday, the Illinois Senate approved SB690 by a vote of 46-10, one day after the state House approved the capital funding bill 87-27. Both chambers had extended their legislative session after failing to come to terms by Friday’s deadline. The bill now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose signature is viewed as a sure thing.

The cash-strapped state hopes to realize over $200m in additional funding through its expanded gambling activity, which will include both land-based and online sports betting, slot machine operations at racetracks, and the construction of six new casinos, including the first in downtown Chicago.

Wagering licenses will be available to the state’s casino and track operators, as well as large sports venues such as Wrigley Field. Land-based operators were shown clear favoritism in the bill, as they can launch online wagering along with land-based betting, but online bettors must register in-person at a land-based facility for the first 18 months following the official launch of betting.

There will be a maximum of three online-only licenses, although these won’t be allowed to launch for 18 months after retail betting begins. Until then, online-only operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel will be allowed to partner with land-based operators on a betting product, but this product cannot bear an online-only company’s branding.

The online-only wagering antagonism is reflected in licensee fees, as online-only operators will pay $20m upfront with $1m renewal fees every four years. Land-based operators will pay an initial fee equal to 5% of their revenue from the previous year up to a maximum of $10m with $1m renewals.

Betting technology suppliers will pay $150k for an application/license fee, which will be good for a four-year term, after which renewals will be done on an annual basis at $150k apiece. So-called ‘management services providers’ who actually run betting operations for master licensees and share in the spoils will pay $1m fees upfront and $500k for a four-year renewal.

Both land-based and online operators will pay 15% tax on their betting revenue, while the state will collect an additional 2% that will be distributed to the state’s ‘home rule’ counties with populations over 3m for the purposes of beefing up their criminal justice systems.

The legislation requires betting licensees to use official league data for settling in-play wagers, defined as ‘tier 2’ bets in the legislation. This is the second victory on this score for the major sports leagues, following the April passage of Tennessee’s betting legislation.

The bill also calls for the Illinois Lottery to conduct a pilot program of offering parlay and fixed-odds wagering via terminals in retail outlets (2,500 to start, another 2,500 in year two if there are no hiccups). The Lottery will select a ‘central system provider’ via a competitive bid process, the winner of which will pay $20m for the privilege.

Illinois is the fifth state to approve betting legislation this year, following Tennessee, Indiana, Iowa and Montana. The governors in those last three states have all signed their respective betting bills into law, while Tennessee’s guv let his become law by default.


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