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Illinois Hopes to join Nevada and New Jersey as Sports Betting Heavyweight

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There is an enormous sports betting market that has yet to be tapped into in the US but if lawmakers have their way, Illinois will soon go live.

Sports betting in the state was approved as part of a massive gaming expansion bill earlier this year. With one of the most passionate fan bases in the country and an impressive lineup of pro sports teams including the Chicago Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox, Illinois is ripe with opportunity.

During the summer Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desire to bring legal gambling to the state took one step closer with the passing of laws designed to quickly and successfully unlock what has the potential to become one of the biggest markets in the US. Casinos, racetracks, stadiums, and lottery vendors will be the first eligible to apply for those licenses with brick-and-mortar establishments getting first crack.

The potential market

Global Market Advisors, a consulting company that looked into the potential for the Illinois betting market came up with a figure of $5.2 billion being wagered in the state by 2023, which isn't too far behind the $5.5 billion they forecast for juggernaut Nevada over that timeframe.

Camelot Lottery Solutions estimates that about 450,000 citizens of Illinois are ready for a rollout and will be willing participants once legal. Citizens will be able to place their wagers at casinos, racetracks and at the Major Sports venues, Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, and United Center almost immediately after legalization.

DraftKings, FanDuel and other mobile operations are not in the plans yet but judging by the pace of their rollouts in other states, a mobile platform shouldn’t be too far behind. The lack of this type of betting threatens to limit Illinois’s revenue potential however – a whopping 84% of the handle in New Jersey, for instance, came from mobile betting.

What is the timeframe for legalization?

There has been no firm timeframe announced for legal betting in Illinois but according to Marcus Fruchter of the Illinois Gaming Board, applications should be available by December 19. That puts Illinois on track to start accepting legal sports betting next year.

While the Illinois Gaming Board has been working hard on the rules for legalization, it still likely leaves Illinois bettors out in the cold for the biggest wagering day on the US calendar, the Super Bowl.

The benefits of sports betting in Illinois

The state has already laid out its taxation model. Sports wagering will be taxed 15% and individual casino operators will be charged a healthy sum for their license – casinos will be charged a maximum of $10 million for a license and Fantasy Sports Companies will require a $20 million license fee.

All tax revenues head into state and local coffers and if Illinois follows the models of the states with legal sports betting already in place, education, infrastructure, and social programs stand to benefit greatly.

There is a total of 42 states in various stages of legalizing sports betting but only 19 are benefitting financially so far. Look for Illinois to get in on legal sports betting in the near future and for the state to become one of the most successful in terms of handle.