Illinois Start Your Engines: Gov. Signs Gambling Expansion and Sports Betting Bill

Written By Derek Helling on July 9, 2019 - Last Updated on April 6, 2021
Gov. signs Illinois sports betting bill

The clock is now ticking on new gaming opportunities in the Land of Lincoln. On Friday, June 28, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an Illinois gambling expansion bill into law.

The new law means gaming operators in Illinois can get to work implementing legal sportsbooks and new casinos in the state. The law raises some new questions, as well.

Illinois gambling expansion timeline

Existing casinos in Illinois can expand their gaming positions to 2,000 immediately. The previous limit was 1,200.

Larger truck stops along with O’Hare and Midway airports will become host sites for new slot and video gambling machines.

No dates for breaking ground on new casinos, like the mega-casino in the Chicago, have been announced. That casino will be the state’s largest, with 4,000 gaming positions.

An estimated date for the groundbreaking at the new casino sites is in a year to 18 months. Those will be in the southern part of Cook County:

  • Danville
  • Rockford
  • Waukegan

Williams County will also host a new casino.

The timeline for the rollout of sports betting is similarly unclear right now. The interested parties still need to determine many aspects of gambling expansion.

Illinois legal sportsbooks getting ready

Though the state will no longer prosecute anyone who bets on professional sports, it will be some time before legal sportsbooks in Illinois will begin accepting wagers.

The state’s gaming board still needs to determine its regulations for sportsbooks. These include determining which applicants will receive one of the limited number of licenses.

Even after licenses are issued, operators will still need time to actually roll out their products. This will include in-person and online sportsbooks.

License fees must be paid by July 1, 2020.

It’s unlikely anything will get going prior to that date. Sports betting in Illinois could be widespread after that date, however.

Lottery, betting, and stadiums

The state’s casinos are the logical choice for most Illinois residents to bet on sports. There will be many more venues to place such wagers, however.

Off-track betting sites and racetracks can apply for licenses. Stadiums of at least 17,000 capacity are eligible as well.

The most widespread operator will be the Illinois Lottery. Thousands of lottery terminals will begin accepting fixed odds parlays and parlays within the first two years.

Even so, the most convenient betting option with be online sports betting apps. Those will be licensed by the state as well. There are some hoops they will have to jump through, however.

Illinois online sports betting

Land-based casinos will be able to offer mobile betting platforms once licensed. Bettors have to register in person before placing wagers, however.

Online-only sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel won’t be able to receive licenses from the state for 540 days, but they can contract with physical operators in the state prior to that date.

If such relationships do develop, bettors would technically be using the casino’s book via DraftKings’ and/or FanDuel’s software.

The legal hurdles preventing gambling expansion in Illinois has been removed with Pritzker’s signature. Now it’s time for the gaming operators to get the infrastructure in place so Illinois residents can place their bets.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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