Illinois Could Be First Midwestern State to Legalize Sports Betting, Multiple Proposals Filed

Posted on: March 22, 2019, 12:09h. 

Last updated on: March 22, 2019, 12:09h.

Illinois lawmakers will consider four proposals to legalize sports betting in the Prairie State, which, if succesful, would make it the first in the Midwest to do so.

State Rep. Michael Zalewski (center), seen here discussing a fantasy sports bill in 2016, is one of four Illinois lawmakers to have filed amendments to his bill that would legalize sports betting in Illinois. (Image: Sarah Mueller/ Illinois Public Radio)

On Thursday, four state House representatives filed amendments to a bill, HB 3308, sponsored by state Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside). Each amendment offers a different method for the state to offer sports betting.

Zalewski’s own amendment would allow the state’s riverboat casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting after they pay a $10 million licensing fee. Illinois would then collect 15 percent on sportsbooks adjusted gross receipts from its retail locations and 20 percent from their online applications.

State Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) offered her own proposal which would allow off-track betting parlors to accept wagers. The state also would be allowed to issue up to 10 licenses for online betting and would tax both retail and online sportsbooks at 15 percent of their adjusted gross income.

Allowing the Illinois Lottery to manage sports betting through the use of terminals, with bettors cashing winning tickets at a lottery retailer came from State Rep. Lisa Hernandez’s (D-Cicero) proposal  The state would collect half of the adjusted gross receipts and divide the funds equally between Illinois’ pension, school, and construction funds.

Proposal Gives Leagues Royalties

State Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago), filed an amendment that would allow betting at casinos, tracks, and online. The sportsbooks would only pay a 12.5 percent tax on adjusted gross receipts.

Thapedi’s proposal would also give professional sports leagues a royalty for each wager placed. It additionally prohibits a gaming facility to be located within a five-block radius of a major league sports stadium or arena, or a golf course used by the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), without the permission of the sports leagues whose teams play there.

All four of the amendments have been referred to the state House Rules Committee.

Governor Urges Action

The amendments come a month after Gov. J.B. Pritzker called on the state legislature to pass a sports betting law to help generate more revenue. He said in his budget address that there’s potential for $200 million in revenue, from both license fees and taxes, in the 2020 fiscal year.

I am calling on the legislature to take this up immediately so that Illinois can realize hundreds of millions of dollars, create new jobs, and bring sports betting into a regulated environment that will protect citizens from bad actors,” Pritzker said in his Feb. 20 speech.

Seven more states — besides Nevada’s pre-existing books –have legalized sports betting since the Supreme Court opened the door for it nationwide last year. Besides Illinois, Iowa legislators are also considering a bill to bring sports wagering to their casinos

A spokeswoman for the Illinois governor told that Pritzker was pleased to see the legislature move forward on the initiative.

“Because this is a new market, Illinois has the opportunity to move expeditiously and be the first state in the Midwest to legalize sports betting,” Jordan Abudayyeh said. “[The governor] looks forward to reviewing any other revenue ideas from the General Assembly, including those involving gaming.”

The 2019 legislative session ends in May.