• SB 690 legalizes new casinos, gambling in airports, and sports betting statewide.
  • Online sports betting requires a $20 million licensing fee.
  • Popular online operators like DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, and others are locked out of the IL market for 18 months.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – It’s been an eventful spring session for Illinois, and sports betting is finally set to be legal in the state. Senate Bill 690 was passed through the statehouse Sunday, and it’s now pending the signature of Gov. JB Pritzker (D).

SB 690 passed the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 87-27, and it passed the state Senate 46-10-2. Illinois is the fifth state to pass sports betting legislation in 2019, and the 13th state to do so overall.

The bill establishes a number of gaming industry allowances, including the construction of a new Chicago casino (amongst others) and the development of casino gaming at racetracks. SB 690 also allows for slot machine parlors at the state’s O’Hare and Midway airports, and it authorizes sports betting at major stadium venues like Soldier Field.

Of course, getting to these new casino and sports betting venues will be more expensive than ever. That’s because Illinois also doubled its gasoline tax to $0.38 per gallon.

Fortunately, resident bettors won’t have to drive to physical sports betting lounges to wager. In Illinois, online sports betting has been legalized in addition to the sports betting lounges at area gambling venues.

That said, the state did partially capitulate to area casino magnate and billionaire Neil Bluhm’s anticompetitive request that daily fantasy sports operators DraftKings and FanDuel be locked out of the market.

Instead of barring the brands from offering their sportsbooks for three years, however, SB 690 merely locks them out for 18 months. Further, this applies to all online-only sportsbook operators, including William Hill US and other top companies.

For the time being, then, only local gambling venues can release self-branded online sports wagering products.

While Illinois will tax sports betting at 15 percent (a moderate rate compared to other states), the government expects licensing fees to be an immediate windfall.

Under SB 690, books that wish to offer legal sports betting must pay a $20 million fee, renewable every four years for $1 million more. Other venues that want to offer brick-and-mortar sports betting will have to pay a licensing fee in line with 5 percent of their annual gross gaming revenues (up to $10 million).

Online wagering also requires in-person registration, mandates the use of “official sports data,” and bars all wagering on Illinois-based NCAA teams.

State budgeters expect a first-year windfall of between $500 million and $700 million from the licenses associated with the state’s gambling expansion.

Illinois’ first sportsbooks should go live before the start of the upcoming NFL season in September. Online wagering will likely take a bit longer to roll out.

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