Illinois Sports Betting Could Soon Be Allowed Where Many Lottery Tickets Are Sold

Posted on: August 27, 2019, 06:44h. 

Last updated on: August 28, 2019, 12:38h.

Illinois may soon offer limited sports betting where lottery tickets are sold under a temporary pilot program that experts predict could be copied in other states.

Illinois residents often purchase lottery tickets, as seen here in 2018, and soon could be able to place limited sports bets at some of the same locations. (Image Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press)

Under a program that has yet to launch, several thousand convenience stores or gas stations would let bettors place parlay sports wagers through kiosks, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed in a recent report. Gamblers would have to be at least 21 years of age — and, under parlay betting, bettors must correctly select outcomes of multiple athletic events in the same bet, the report adds.

It is part of the state’s 816-page gambling bill that was signed into law earlier this year. Eventually, the sports betting lottery pilot program is estimated to generate between $58 million and $102 million a year for the state.

Sports wagering will also be provided at the state’s racetracks, casinos and even athletic stadiums, if they choose to take part. A mega-casino is also planned for Chicago.

With regard to the lottery sports wagering initiative, Illinois Lottery general counsel Cornell Wilson recently told the lottery board that the “department is working diligently to research and properly implement this program…. It’s a great opportunity for the lottery to grow and facilitate the state’s revenue,” according to the Sun-Times.

It is not known when the pilot program could launch. Rules must be written by state officials for the program to be offered, and the pilot program would end in 2024 under current law, the newspaper reported.

Under the initiative, bettors could place wagers at about 2,500 lottery retailers during the initial year of the pilot program, and another 2,500 retailers could participate during the second year of the pilot program. Retailers can decide on their own if they want to take part.

The Illinois lottery would offer a $20 million license for a company to operate the multiple betting kiosks, the Sun-Times reported.

Delaware Provides Illinois a Model

A few other states currently offer or may soon offer sports betting via lotteries. They could become models for the Illinois initiative, Wilson said.

But many of these lottery-affiliated wagering systems partner with a land-based casino sportsbook. They are not offered through convenience stores, the newspaper report said.

Delaware is an exception, with its parlay retail lottery sports betting. It has been in place since 2012 and now involves only 102 retailers.

It provides betting on collegiate and NFL football. In 2018, it raised over $6 million for the state’s coffers.

Lottery Kiosks Expands Gaming Options

Cory Aronovitz, an attorney at the Casino Law Group in Illinois, told, “The kiosks add another venue for those that traditionally do not bet on sports.

“The kiosks act more like a lottery option, with parlay and fixed odds parlay and have a payout more akin to a lottery,” he said. “More important, this allows those that have been traditionally left out of wagering into this sector….”

Aronovitz points out the law needs to expand the number of retail locations “to allow liquor licensees to also participate and broaden the number of kiosks offered throughout the state. Otherwise, the limited number under the current bill will direct kiosks only to the most profitable locations, which … shuts out small businesses in ethnic minority communities.”

He added that if the law is revised to allow more kiosks and allow small businesses to own and operate them, “this is a model that would work in many other states.”

Aronovitz suggests Illinois also needs to revisit the fees charged, “since this is a pilot program,” and needs to “expand the number of kiosks and … allow straight fix odds wagers.”

Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who has studied the gambling sector extensively, told that “any place in the US would be fertile ground for sports betting.

“The US and the big cities, in particular, are hotbeds for sports,” McGowan added. “People would like to bet on their hometown teams, particularly in football.”

He further confirmed that other states may follow Illinois’ example of placing sports betting kiosks at locations that sell lottery tickets. “Why share the profits with private operators?”

Michael Wenz, an economics professor at Northeastern Illinois University, told the Illinois gambling expansion bill “pushes legal gambling as far as nearly anywhere in the country outside of Nevada, but does so with one of the higher tax burdens for gambling in the country. From the standpoint of the state coffers, expanding gambling is likely to generate increasing amounts of tax revenue.”

But Wenz warns that if all proposed six new casinos, five new racinos, and the stadium sportsbooks come to fruition, “There will undoubtedly be a drain on the revenues of existing casinos and limits to how much the new casinos will be able to take in. It seems unlikely that revenue from sportsbooks would offset the effects of saturation for the existing locations.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some locations choose not to expand their number of gaming positions to the new maximum allowable levels,” Wenz predicts.

Also, under the new state law, 500 slot machines could be placed at O’Hare and Chicago Midway international airports. They could land close to $37 million a year for the Windy City. That would even surpass the revenue from slots at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport — where there are about 1,300 slots, the Sun-Times reported based on a Union Gaming Analytics study.