It’s arguably the best time of the year on the US sports calendar. And, much like last year, it is legal to bet on March Madness in Illinois.
However, it’s not quite the same. As of March 5, it is now possible to sign up for Illinois sports betting account online. Although, it is not possible to bet on Illinois college teams on your mobile device.
Cue the collective eye rolls.
Unlike last year, it is possible to bet on Illinois schools legally. Though, in order to do so, you must visit a retail sportsbook (casino, racetrack or OTB) and place bets in person. No live betting or player prop bets are allowed.
There are two schools representing the Land of Lincoln in the 2022 NCAA Tournament: Illinois and Loyola Chicago. Both are in the South Region, with Illinois as a No. 4 seed and Loyola Chicago as a No. 10 seed.
With that, let’s project how much we expect Illinoisans to bet on March Madness this year, as well as give some background on how we got to this point.
2022 Illinois March Madness betting projections
In 2021, the state recorded about $200 million in total March Madness bets. For the month, Illinois recorded a sports betting handle of $633.6 million — easily a record at that time.
However, much has changed since then. In January 2022, Illinois sports bettors set a new record with $867.5 million in bets.
We have online registration now, and we had it last year for March Madness, too. But for 11 months in between, the regulations required was in-person registration. That makes projecting this stuff tricky.
But that’s what we’re here to do. A few weeks ago, PlayIllinois projected that Illinois would record approximately $900 million in total bets for March 2022.
Using the same March Madness ratio as 2021 (plus a few extra million for in-person IL collegiate wagering), we at PlayIllinois.com project Illinois will bet $290 million on the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Why can’t you bet on Illinois teams online?
When the Sports Wagering Act passed in 2019, betting on Illinois college teams was completely prohibited.
Since the market has gone live, it has been a frequent topic of discussion in the state. Last year, it came to a head when Illinois and Loyola Chicago squared off in the NCAA Tournament. It was impossible to bet on the game within state lines legally.
But there was legislative momentum to change the law — though not enough for full legalization. In December, Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 3136 into law, which legalized limited betting on Illinois schools in person. The bill also gave March 5 as the end date for in-person registration.
The in-person provision expires on July 1, 2023. On or before then, the legislature will have three options:
- Make betting on IL college teams completely illegal once again.
- Extend the current limited policy of in-person-only bets on in-state teams.
- Allow mobile betting on Illinois college schools.
Assuming there are no hiccups during this trial phase, there should be more support for the third option by 2023. Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman remains a staunch opponent of the policy, but his view might not hold as much influence by then.
Illinois, Loyola Chicago spreads and tip times
Here are the lines and tipoff times for the Illinois and Loyola Chicago games. While you won’t see these on your Illinois sports betting apps, you can put action on these games in person if you so choose.
- No. 4 Illinois (-7.5) vs. No. 13 Chattanooga: Friday, 5:50 p.m. CST, TNT
- No. 7 Ohio State (-1) vs. No. 10 Loyola Chicago: Friday, 11:15 a.m. CST, CBS
Last year, Illinois and Loyola Chicago met in the Round of 32. This time around, that would not be possible until the Elite Eight.
On the off chance that happens, expect to see some very long lines at Illinois retail sportsbooks.