A new House amendment would make a sports betting lottery terminal license 20 times cheaper than the current cost.
The lottery sports wagering pilot program was an afterthought in the 2019 Sports Wagering Act, but certain lawmakers are making an effort to revive it.
Currently, the bill states that an operator must pay no less than $20 million for the license. The amendment lowers that cost to $1 million.
But, we should back up. Some might be wondering: What is a sports betting lottery terminal?
What to know about Illinois sports betting lottery terminals
Well, they don’t currently exist. But in the idealized version of the bill, there would be up to 5,000 terminals across Illinois where people could place sports bets. The terminals would be run by a central operator, or in other words, a sportsbook.
There would be no limits as to where the terminals could be placed. Think anywhere from a grocery store to a CTA stop to a sports bar.
One catch, however, is that only parlay bets would be offered at these terminals. That’s a play on the lottery aspect of it all — the chance to “win big.”
Parlays are generally extremely advantageous to operators, so from that perspective, it could be an attractive proposition for a sportsbook. And a $1 million license fee could make it worth someone’s while.
On the other hand, there would still be no mobile component involved with the lottery program. And with online sports betting registration returning by March 5 at the latest, that is likely most outside operators’ focus.
Previous amendment failed
In May 2021, the Illinois legislature took a crack at amending the lottery pilot program.
HB 4087 would have lowered the license fee from $20 million to $10 million. It also would have removed the parlays only stipulation, which would be much more attractive to consumers.
However, the amendment never made it out of the House. While this amendment is different, that is worth keeping in mind for the latest edition.
The immediate future of Illinois sports betting
With or without these lottery terminals, Illinois sports betting is about to get another jolt.
Online registration is returning soon, which will mean a flurry of new sportsbooks in Illinois and more options for customers. BetMGM Sportsbook is on the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) meeting docket for Thursday, and we expect them to receive approval.
That doesn’t mean BetMGM will launch immediately, but it should within the next month and change.
The March revenue report will be extremely telling. Last March, Illinoisans bet $633.6 million, which was the standing handle record for several months.
This time around, all things considered, $1 billion is not out of the question.