The legislative session for the state of Illinois was supposed to end this past Friday, but instead will be stretched over the weekend so lawmakers can discuss a few key issues. One of the most notable topics involves sports betting, which now has another chance of seeing legalization.
The original sports bill that had some momentum in Illinois was Senate Bill 516. However, early on Friday afternoon, Senator Robert Rita filed amendments to Senate Bill 690. This may initially seem insignificant considering that SB 690 is a bill that concerns property tax code in relation to the Invest in Kids Act.
While that was the initial intention of the bill, Senator Rita’s amendments have now shifted the focus. SB 690 is now a massive, comprehensive bill that covers several licensing requirements for both sportsbooks and data providers.
The gist of the amended bill is that it would legalize sports betting both in-person and online. Language indicates that in-person wagers would be permitted at casinos and racetracks, while online bets are allowed so long as a person registers in-person first.
Another interesting aspect of the bill is the tax rate, which is proposed at 15%. This is actually lower than the original figure which was used to estimate annual tax revenue of over $200 million. Considering that online sports betting would be permitted under this bill, this makes a hundred-million dollar tax revenue figure much more likely for the state.
SB 690 also requires the use of official league data if operators wish to offer in-play bets. This is something that is likely to become more common, as the NBA itself recently restricted access to official league data for the ongoing NBA Finals. Sports leagues are taking much more of an invested interest in sports betting, which will make it increasingly difficult to access official data in the future. Interestingly enough, this bill doesn’t have an integrity fee attached.
While the bill certainly covers sports betting, it also discusses several other topics that have a financial impact of up to $1 billion. Despite the size, the amendments were almost immediately approved in the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill was then passed on to the House Executive Committee, which was delayed by discussion of legalizing marijuana.
SB 690’s amendments were approved by a vote of 8-5, which now keeps the bill up for discussion this weekend. Considering the legislation’s willingness to approve controversial topics like marijuana, there is a great chance the state will also legalize sports betting.
There is still no guarantee of that, but at least there are a few more days for representatives to work out specifics. On Sunday night, we’ll know where the state stands on legal sports betting.