Friday morning as part of a “Bill Signing Tour,” Governor J.B. Pritzker made Illinois the fifth state this year — and biggest by population — to officially legalize sports betting.
Pritzker tasked the state legislature with legalizing sports betting to add $200 mm to state coffers in February. Lawmakers complied, albeit in an 11th-hour effort and as part of a $12 billion capital bill.
Today, Prtizker visited East St. Louis, Springfield and Joliet to sign bills. He signed sports betting into law during an event in the state capitol of Springfield. His tour will continue Monday and Tuesday, and includes “Gaming Events” in Rockford, Chicago, and Waukegan.
It’s official. We have legalized sports betting and a Chicago mega-casino coming to Illinois.
Which sportsbook are you going to for The Super Bowl?
(📸: @DaisyJourno) pic.twitter.com/rIt3wBuLY1
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeOstrowski) June 28, 2019
At the beginning of June and on the second day of the extended regular session, the Illinois Senate passed a capital bill that was years in the making. Sports betting was tacked onto the bill earlier in the week, after lawmakers determined its best chance of passage was an amendment to a bigger bill, rather than as a stand-alone piece of legislation. The new law will allow for state-wide mobile sports betting, physical sportsbooks at Illinois professional stadiums, and the goal would be to launch sports betting around New Year’s.
Illinois unlikely to beat Iowa, Indiana to launch
In order, Montana, Iowa, Indiana, and Tennessee legalized earlier this year. The biggest state population-wise to legalize sports betting so far Pennsylvania, and the Keystone State did so in 2017. In late May, the state’s first mobile apps went online. (Legal sports betting in New York so far will be limited to on-premises at four upstate casinos.)
Illinois lawmakers certainly felt some pressure to legalize as their neighbors were doing the same, but it’s likely that Iowa and Indiana will be able to launch sports betting ahead of Illinois. The goal for both states is to do so around football season, but temper those expectations, Hoosiers. Illinois likely won’t see licensed sportsbooks launch until early 2020, with the probable goal being in time for Super Bowl LIV on February 2 in Miami.
“As the state rolls out its sports betting framework, it’s critical that Illinois sports teams and other newcomers to the gaming business follow the lead of the state’s licensed gaming operators in advancing responsible gaming practices that ensure protections for consumers, bets and game integrity,” Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said in a press release.
Tennessee’s bill — the first to legalize mobile/online betting only — became law without Governor Bill Lee’s signature.
On June 19, Maine lawmakers passed a sports betting bill that one local lawyer hailed as “one of the best in the nation.” The bill is on its way to Governor Janet Mills, who is expected to sign. In Colorado, lawmakers passed, and the governor signed, a sports betting bill that will let Colorado voters go on the November ballot to decide whether or not to legalize under the framework described in the bill.
Sports betting now legal in 15 jurisdictions
As 2019 state legislative sessions wind down, there are now eight states with live, legal #sportsbetting and seven states plus DC have authorized it but are not yet operational. What a year! https://t.co/PkSveUHklN
— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) June 21, 2019
Including Nevada, 15 states plus the District of Columbia now have legalized (some gubernatorial action pending), though so far it’s active only in Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Many of the jurisdictions that have legalized are planning launches this fall. New Mexico hasn’t technically legalized sports betting, but at least two tribal casinos are offering it, and the state lottery is planning a new game tied to sports, and Oregon didn’t need legislative action and its lottery plans to launch some sports betting in the fall.
Illinois’ bill comes with a mandate to use “official league data” as well as a twist putting a few to-be licensed online operators in a “penalty box” for 18 months. Brick-and-mortar gaming properties that obtain sports wagering licenses will be able to go online when regulators approve their systems, however online-only books will have to wait.
Lawmakers viewed the delay as a compromise after Rush Street Interactive pushed for daily fantasy and sports betting competitors DraftKings and FanDuel be barred from operating in the state for three years. Rush Street Interactive claims the companies have been operating their daily fantasy businesses illegally in Illinois and should not be “rewarded.”