Illinois vs. Nebraska is the first college football game to take place in Week 1, but Illinois residents will not be able to bet on the Illini in the state.
That’s because betting on in-state collegiate teams is prohibited in the Land of Lincoln. This has been a hot topic in the Illinois betting world, and it came to a head during March Madness. Illinois earned a No. 1 seed, and it faced Loyola-Chicago in the Round of 32. It was a rare in-state March Madness matchup that nobody could bet on.
But in the most recent legislative session, the House passed a bill that would repeal the in-state collegiate betting ban. The twist? The ban would still apply online, and bettors would only be able to place these wagers in person at retail sportsbooks.
Rep. Michael Zalewski, who has long been pushing for a repeal, told PlayIllinois he hopes the in-person compromise will eventually open the door to a mobile repeal as well. But in the short term, it’s in-person or bust.
The Senate has yet to vote on the bill, but that could happen in the October veto session. Sen. Cristina Castro addressed why the Senate didn’t vote on the bill in the spring legislative session:
“The Senate didn’t have a chance to dissect it and go through it. I think, as far as the Senate is concerned, it’s mostly a clean-up bill. Nothing heavy. There’s just a few things I think we’re going to examine a little more as I understand it from last I heard before we adjourned.”
With that said, the bill passed 96-11 in the House. So once the Senate votes, there’s a good chance it passes.
Best case scenario, we could have betting on Illinois teams by the thick of Big Ten season.
Betting markets don’t love Illinois college football teams
If there’s any silver lining of not being able to bet on Illinois college football teams, it’s that they aren’t expected to be very good in 2021.
The Prairie State has three FBS schools: Illinois, Northwestern and Northern Illinois.
If you’re in the state, you won’t see odds listed for these teams on your sports betting apps. But in other markets, here’s where DraftKings Sportsbook pits over/under win total for this trio:
- Northwestern: Over/under 6
- Illinois: Over/under 3.5
- Northern Illinois: Over/under 3.5
Perhaps it’s more of a bummer that you can’t bet against these teams in the state than on them.
Northwestern will be decent, and the Wildcats are coming off of a run to the Big Ten Championship Game. But they lost quarterback Peyton Ramsey to graduation as well as offensive tackle Rashawn Slater and cornerback Greg Newsome to the first round of the NFL Draft.
Illinois vs. Nebraska odds
If you’re in a nearby market such as Indiana or Iowa, you can legally bet on the Nebraska vs. Illinois game.
The Cornhuskers are currently consensus 7-point favorites over the Illini. The game will air on Saturday at 12 p.m. CST on FOX and take place at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
Nebraska opened as a 9.5-point favorite, so there has been some movement towards the home underdogs in Bret Bielema’s first game as head coach. The consensus point total is 55.
Illinois finished 2-6 in the Big Ten last season, while Nebraska finished 3-5. The college football slate gets much better Labor Day weekend, but football diehards will surely be eager for Aug. 28 as well.