There is rarely a dull moment in the Illinois gaming industry. And, looking ahead at the 2021 calendar and into 2022, even busier days are ahead.
The Illinois sports betting industry is the No. 3 market in the country by handle on a monthly basis. Still, there are plenty of issues to work out, as well as potential casino news on the horizon.
If you’re interested in the latest happenings in the IL gambling scene, here are some key dates and times to circle on your calendar.
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Oct. 19-28: In-state betting on college teams
The Illinois General Assembly is in session for six days toward the end of October for a “veto” session. It’s possible that legalized betting on Illinois college teams is on the agenda.
In the spring, the House passed a bill that would make e.g., betting on the Fighting Illini, OK, albeit with an in-person stipulation. The Senate has yet to vote on the legislation but they could during the veto session.
Of course, the Illinois Legislature will have issues that are more of a priority, and won’t get to SB 521 again.
If you’re invested in Illinois sports betting, you will want to follow PlayIllinois to read what happens at the October veto session.
Oct. 29: Chicago casino proposal deadline
Chicago casino’s Request For Proposals (RFP) deadline was previously August. But, due to a lack of interest from gaming companies, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot extended the deadline to Oct. 29.
Then, we should learn which companies have or have not submitted proposals. We know Rush Street Gaming is interested.
It’s also possible that Lightfoot’s deadline extension fails to attract new bidders. If that’s the case, amending key components such as the tax structure could be on the table.
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While that could make a Chicago casino project more enticing for the biggest gaming operators, it would also delay a process further that has already moved at a snail’s pace.
December 2021: Illinois in-person registration news
In August, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) published applications for three online-only sports betting licenses. Once the IGB issues one of those licenses, there will no longer be an in-person registration requirement for online sports betting.
The application deadline is Dec. 3. Around that time, the IGB will announce if there are any qualified bids. That will be key because if there are any qualified bids, we will know that the in-person registration days are numbered.
The IGB would have 90 days after announcing whether there are qualified bids to determine the license winners. If all goes according to plan, we could look at early 2022 for when Illinois can return to mobile registration.
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However, there is serious doubt over whether any will apply for the licenses. They cost $20 million apiece, and anyone bidding on a mobile-only license will be doing a huge favor to operators such as FanDuel, DraftKings, etc., which are the US market leaders and have well-established sportsbooks in Illinois.
If there are no bidders, a legislative fix will be needed. Again, it would take time.
Whether or not there are any online-only license bidders will be significant news with a domino effect across the IL sports betting landscape.
Early 2022: Future of online casino in Illinois
The IL Legislature meets every January-May. In 2021, that’s when lawmakers introduced multiple online casino bills.
Expect to see more Illinois online casino talk around then, even if it doesn’t pass during the session.
Sen. Cristina Castro, who recently sponsored a Senate internet gaming study, told PlayIllinois regarding online casino:
“I don’t know if it can be done in a year. It’s going to take time to educate my colleagues on what iGaming is and what it isn’t. There are people with concerns, and we need to address VGTs. Maybe we set up the ground work over 2022 and look at 2023 to pass it.”
This session would also be a time for legislative fixes mentioned previously. For instance, if betting on in-state college teams is not addressed in October, it will be between January-May of 2022.
That would also be a time for any necessary in-person registration fixes or amendments to the Chicago casino terms.