Lots Of Questions, No Answers On Removal Of KBO, NASCAR, PGA And Soccer Betting Markets

Written By Derek Helling on July 28, 2020 - Last Updated on August 16, 2020

On Monday, the BetRivers online sportsbook removed several soccer matches, Korean Baseball Organization, NASCAR and PGA betting markets from its Illinois platform.

So far, information about why the sportsbook took the markets down and when, or if, they will become options for IL bettors again, is murky.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) stated that it didn’t order any of its licensees to stop taking wagers on those events. Regardless, more questions than answers remain.

Confusion over the status of PGA betting and other markets in IL

Bettors started noticing the absence of these markets Monday.

On Tuesday morning, Illinois Gaming Board’s Director of Policy and Special Projects Joe Miller disclosed the following:

“The IGB did not instruct its sports wagering licensees to remove those leagues from their wagering options. However, the Illinois Gaming Board does require all sports wagering licensees to comply with the requirements of the Sports Wagering Act, including the statutory requirement to only offer wagering on professional sports, athletic events, collegiate events or motor racing events as defined in Rule 1900.120.”

Section 1900.120 of the state’s sports wagering regulations provides many definitions. Among them are what constitutes an event that is permissible for Illinois sportsbooks to take action on.

The definitions read:

  • Collegiate sport or athletic event: An intercollegiate contest, event or game at which two or more persons participate, conducted under the auspices of a board recognized college sports governing body.
  • Professional sport or athletic event: A contest, event or game at which two or more persons participate and receive compensation in excess of actual expenses for their participation in that event.

The words “motor racing events” do not appear in Section 1900.120 of the regs. As a matter of fact, the phrase does not appear anywhere in the rules.

As KBO, NASCAR, PGA and international soccer competitions involve at least two competitors and the participants are paid above the cost of participation, it’s unclear exactly how these events don’t fit the definition. What’s perhaps more perplexing is whether they fit that definition may have nothing to do with why sportsbooks removed the markets.

No clear answer to the simple question of why

So far, there is no concise explanation as to why these markets suddenly disappeared and only in Illinois. BetRivers/SugarHouse continues to accept wagers on these events in other states like Pennsylvania.

Typically, when sportsbooks remove markets, it’s due to integrity concerns. Either the books themselves or regulators become suspicious of match-fixing, so they err on the side of caution.

Currently, there’s no indication of such suspicion connected to any of these events. If that were the case, then Rush Street merely removing the markets in IL while keeping them running in other states would be illogical.

While details on this situation remain scant, it’s an issue that everyone would like to see resolved quickly. The online sports betting landscape in IL could get a lot busier soon.

Other operators on the horizon

Currently, BetRivers is the only legal option for online wagering in the Prairie State. That may change very soon, however. The IGB might issue a master license to the Hawthorne Race Course on Thursday.

That facility has already contracted to bring PointsBet to the Land of Lincoln. DraftKings may launch in IL as soon as its facility partner, the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, gets its license.

Additionally, the IGB has issued licenses to FanDuel and William Hill as well. Neither brand has a facility partner in the state yet, however.

When there is more than one online operator, confusion on the status of betting on popular events like NASCAR and the PGA will have a larger effect. That’s especially true amid a viral pandemic that limits domestic sporting events.

Right now, a clear answer on whether legal PGA betting markets are accessible in Illinois doesn’t exist. Hopefully, this incident will be a momentary blip for both operators and regulators in the state.

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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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