In Illinois, even being the mayor of a town and being related to a Chicago Bears legend won’t get you off charges related to illegal sports betting. That’s something Casey Urlacher recently discovered.
Urlacher, the brother of former Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher and mayor of Mettawa, Illinois, was charged on Thursday. He is accused of being part of an unlicensed gambling ring.
The details on the allegations against Casey Urlacher
According to a federal indictment against Urlacher and others, he acted as an agent for the ring. The Department of Justice alleges that Urlacher recruited bettors.
In exchange for his work, according to the charges, Urlacher received a cut of the losses from the bettors he recruited. If convicted, Urlacher could face up to five years in prison.
The court has not yet set a date for Urlacher’s arraignment. It may be possible that he could negotiate a plea deal, as he was not the ring’s leader.
In exchange for his guilty plea and testimony, prosecutors may recommend a lighter sentence. Even if Urlacher faces a more lenient sentence or a lesser charge, he is unlikely to be able to ever take part in working for a legitimate gambling business now.
That’s because state regulations require background checks for all key personnel and stakeholders. If such checks turn up a conviction like this, the state will likely deny licensure.
While Urlacher has more to worry about than his future employment options right now, his tale is a cautionary one for Illinoisans. There’s no upside to illegal betting.
Why legal sportsbooks are a vastly superior option
Other than not having to worry about arrest, it’s a better choice to use a legal sportsbook than an offshore site or a local bookie. Even if law enforcement never catches up to you, there are downsides.
Legal sportsbooks offer superior consumer confidence. If a problem ever arises that a sportsbook’s customer service can’t resolve, bettors can seek the assistance of the state’s gaming bureau.
Regulation ensures that sportsbooks pay out winnings in a timely manner, as well. Illegal sportsbooks, on the other hand, can keep your winnings for months with no consequence.
When you use a legal sportsbook, you can also know that part of your money is going to benefit your communities. Regulated operators pay taxes to the state. The state uses those dollars to pay for things like roads and state employees’ pensions.
Another downside to illegal channels is their preying on people with compulsive gambling issues. Legal operators must make information on resources such individuals can access readily available, and part of the taxes they pay goes to fund those programs.
While there is currently no legal option available in Illinois right now, that should change quickly. Legal sportsbooks in the Prairie State could go live as soon as next month.
The better, safer options coming to Illinois soon
Many people in the state, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, expect Illinois’ legal sportsbooks to be up and running in time for March Madness. Because of that, Illinoisans will soon be able to enjoy a better experience.
Although just three brick-and-mortar sportsbooks might be the only options at first, the number of licensees could grow soon. That should include online options, as well.
While Urlacher may have made some money off his role in the ring, it’s unlikely that it’s enough to buy his way out of this mess. Others in Illinois should learn from his poor choices.