Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 3136 into law on Friday, a bill that will have major ramifications on Illinois sports betting.
The state Senate and House passed the bill during the October veto session. Bill authors addressed a few key issues with the legislation.
Here’s how HB 3136 will affect Illinois sports bettors and gamblers now and in the near future.
Betting on Illinois college teams is now legal
Which sounds exciting — and it is to an extent, but there’s a catch. Only in-person wagering on Illinois college teams will be permitted.
That means you’ll have to go to a retail sportsbook at a casino, racetrack or off-track betting facility to legally bet on Illinois, Northwestern, Loyola Chicago, etc.
Rep. Michael Zalewski, who has long pushed for full legalization, believes this is an incremental policy step, and online betting on IL college teams will be revisited in two years.
If this compromise goes off without any complications, there should be more momentum for a complete repeal of the ban in 2023.
Online sportsbook registration will return soon
HB 3136 gives March 5, 2022, as the last possible date for in-person sports betting registration. We could return to mobile sign-ups sooner, but it will be no later than March 5.
The date will be just in time for March Madness betting. In early April, Pritzker brought back in-person registration.
As a result, there are only six online sportsbooks in Illinois, which typically has the third-largest sports betting handle in the US each month. Most legal states have double-digit sportsbooks, so IL is something of an outlier at the moment.
But by the end of 2022, we could see upwards of 10 mobile sportsbooks in Illinois. For most brands, launching in an in-person registration environment is a non-starter.
The March 5 end date was necessary because there was reason to believe no one was going to bid on an online-only license. The Sports Wagering Act states that the issuance of an online-only license is the trigger for a return to remote registration.
That was not a concern during the initial draft of the bill, so lawmakers chose to add in this amendment during the veto session.
Video gaming ‘push tax’ now legal
While it doesn’t fall under the sports betting category, a video gaming amendment will affect the state’s gaming industry.
HB 3136 legalized a video gaming “push tax,” which means a tax is charged each time someone plays a game at a video gaming terminal (VGT).
In this case, the push tax is a penny per push. Several municipalities recently voted in favor of a push tax in accordance with the bill.
There is a lot of controversy behind the push tax, as the financial burden falls on the player. However, the tax gives local governments a key revenue stream.