You could make the case that Illinois is the second biggest online sports betting market in the United States, and that is definitely the case in some months. Illinois online sportsbooks could actually perform even better if they were given the chance to offer one specific market.
Lawmakers in the state voted on Wednesday night to approve Tier 1 wagering on college sporting events at retail sportsbooks. Tier 1 wagers are limited to pregame wagers that are offered on the moneyline, spread, or betting total.
When sports betting first started in Illinois, betting on in-state college teams was outlawed altogether. There was a strong push from college athletic directors in the state, and those lawmakers chose to listen to them.
Before the lawmaking session ended in 2022, lawmakers were able to pass a bill to allow retail sportsbooks to at least give sports bettors a chance to bet on local teams. That bill was set to expire on July 1, but this new amendment will allow it to continue on.
The NCAA is taking a hard look at betting on college sporting events, and specifically on betting coming from college athletes. There were two major scandals early in May at the University of Alabama and two Iowa schools, but so far, there hasn’t been an issue in Illinois.
Online Sportsbooks Want the Option
Even though sports bettors are now able to do a bit of traveling to place bets on in-state college teams, those wagers still don’t produce a ton of big results. Online sports betting in the state accounts for more than 95% of the wagers each month, and these online sportsbooks are left out of the current bill.
House Bill 4041 was introduced earlier this year, and it would remove the language that requires in-person betting for all in-state collegiate events. That bill is not expected to pass this year, but it could remain on the floor for discussion for future years.
College basketball and college football are popular sports to wager on, especially during the month of March. According to the Illinois Gaming Board, there was more than $1.4 billion wagered on college sporting events in 2022.
Circa Sportsbook Coming
It has been over a year since the state of Illinois welcomed a new sportsbook, but that should be changing later this year. Circa Sportsbook has received an online sports betting license from the Illinois Gaming Board, and a late August launch is planned.
Circa Sportsbook will become the eighth online sports betting operator to go live in the state, and it will join some terrific options. Illinois will be just the fourth state in which Circa Sportsbook has launched, but it has been extremely successful in other markets.
There is also a plan to launch retail sports betting in Illinois by Circa Sports, but getting the online sportsbook up and running will be the main goal.
Bally’s Chicago Continues to Evolve
Not only is the online sports betting industry set to grow, but the casino industry is going to get a big addition as well. Bally’s is working on launching in the Land of Lincoln, and it is going to be the first-ever casino in the Windy City.
Not only will this be a new casino gambling option in the state, but it will be a huge new retail sportsbook as well. Plans continue to develop behind the scenes for the new Bally’s Casino, and it is going to be more functional than it is fancy.