Colleges Could Soon Become Betting Markets in Illinois
If one lawmaker gets his way in the state of Illinois, new betting markets could soon be available.
This change would target college football and basketball programs in Illinois and could provide a huge boost to the sports betting market.
Currently, sportsbooks in Illinois are not allowed to offer betting markets on any in-state college athletic events. There are 13 Division I basketball teams and seven FBS football programs in Illinois, and all betting on these games is prohibited.
Representative Mike Zalewski is once again leading the charge, and he has already officially filed two bills this year. House Bill 5876 was initially filed in January, but it did not make it out of the Rules Committee in time to be considered.
Zalewski has refused to give up, and earlier this week, he filed HB 0849, which is exactly identical to his initial proposal. This bill would remove the provision in place that prohibits gambling on in-state college teams and would leave that decision up to sportsbooks.
With the NCAA Tournament set to begin in a little over a month, there is virtually no chance for this change to be implemented before that time. Zalewski is hoping that betting on in-state college football teams would be available next fall.
The Illinois Gaming Board also had strict limitations placed on Super Bowl prop bets, which will hurt the numbers brought in from the Big Game. Illinois has become a huge sports betting market, but these limitations are holding the state back.
Major Impacts For NCAA Tournament
Even if this bill does gain enough support to pass through both houses of the legislature, it is unclear how quickly this can be done. With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament set to begin in the middle of March, there is some pressure on legislators to get something done quickly.
The Illinois Fighting Illini are projected to be a top seed in the upcoming March Madness tournament, and betting on the Illini could provide a huge boost to the numbers. Loyola-Chicago is also expected to make the field, and it would be another potential betting market.
Barstool Sportsbook has announced plans to launch in Illinois before the NCAA Tournament begins, and it would love to feature bets on the two best college basketball teams in the state. Barstool typically runs some unique promotions, and those would feature the Fighting Illini if this was to be an option.
Betting on the entire NCAA Tournament is available in Illinois, but sportsbooks could potentially have to leave out the games featuring Illinois teams. If Illinois makes a deep run, that could force sportsbooks to miss out on money and action from some of the biggest games of the tournament.
The state of New Jersey is also looking to make a rule change that would allow betting on in-state college teams. New Jersey is the biggest sports betting market in the US, but it could also see much larger numbers if new legislation was passed.
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