Illinois College Athletes Can Now Profit Off Of NIL, But Sports Gambling Endorsements Are Prohibited

Written By Joe Boozell on July 2, 2021

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a measure this week that would allow college athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness (NIL).

The move comes shortly after the US Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that the NCAA can no longer prohibit schools from letting their athletes do so.

Illinois is one of almost two dozen states to enact this type of policy. However, the law does not allow student-athletes to sign gambling or sports betting endorsement deals.

Given Illinois’ complicated relationship with in-state college sports betting, that component is not a surprise. And while this is new territory in the US, it’s consistent with what other states are doing.

The law also prohibits athletes from signing endorsement deals related to controlled substances, marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, e-cigarettes, performance-enhancing supplements and adult entertainment.

Pritzker said of the new law:

“The benefits of this law don’t stop with kids bound for the NFL or the NBA. Any student-athlete can partner with businesses in their college towns as well as brands big and small to see a financial benefit from the hours they pour into their craft.”

This will not only allow student-athletes to sign endorsement deals, but it will also allow them to be compensated for teaching lessons for their given sport. It will also allow them to raise money for charitable organizations using their NIL.

Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman (pictured above), a noted opponent of in-state college sports betting, supports the law:

“This is one of those days that allows us to begin to usher in a new era of college athletics. Truly, (name, image and likeness) legislation represents the most dramatic, meaningful change to come to the collegiate model since the adoption of athletic scholarships back in the early 1950s.”

In-state college betting still banned in Illinois

Illinoisans still won’t be able to bet on their home college teams at the start of college football season.

However, that could change in October. The Illinois House already passed a bill that would mandate in-person betting on Illinois colleges. While unsatisfactory to many, it’s an incremental policy step.

The state Senate didn’t have enough time to review the legislation to vote on the bill a few weeks ago. But when the legislature meets for the October veto session, it should be addressed.

There is even some optimism that the Senate could remove the in-person stipulation in the bill.

Either way, October is likely the earliest that the ban will be lifted. That would allow Illinoisans to bet on the final two months of college football season and the full hoops season.

But in what fashion? That’s up in the air.

Whitman, as previously mentioned, is the most notable opponent to legal in-state college betting. Here’s what he said on the topic at a House Executive Committee hearing in April:

“Most of the time, they base a lot of their self-concept or self-image about people they’ve never met, what they say about them on social media. And that’s a daily battle that we fight in college-athletics today. By allowing people in our state to bet on our own student athletes, we’re only opening the door and inviting people to have those intense, threatening, abusive interactions with our student-athletes.”

Athletes won’t be allowed to sign endorsement deals with sports betting companies. With that said, if they are able to profit off their NIL, could that inspire certain members of the Illinois Legislature to treat them less like amateurs?

We’ll see. Either way, college sports and college sports betting will be hot topics in the coming months.

Photo by Bradley Leeb / AP
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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