Terrestrial casinos, racetracks and sports venues in Illinois will be able to offer legal sports betting – land based and mobile – thanks to a state vote in favor of such a move in an extended legislative session over the weekend. The news was not good for sportsbooks DraftKings and FanDuel, both of which will have to wait a further 18 months before they can begin trading in the state.
The announcement was hailed by Richard Schwartz, President of Rush Street Interactive who said: “Thanks to Governor Pritzker’s leadership, and the weekend overtime hours put in by the General Assembly, we are excited by the legalization of sports betting and the prospect of making history by bringing our innovative and award-winning mobile platform to Illinois.
“Just this past week we made history in Pennsylvania for being the first to launch an online sportsbook. We look forward to bringing the same top quality, award-winning products and services to players in Illinois where we are headquartered.”
DraftKings CEO Jason Robins was understandably less effusive, tweeting: “While it is good to see sports betting bills passed, excluding DraftKings and FanDuel is like passing a ride sharing bill that excludes Uber and Lyft. Very disappointing that Illinois customers will not have the best options available to them for 18 months.”
When those online licenses – just three of them – finally become available, they will do so at a handsome cost of $20m each, renewable after four years for a further $1m. Operators, however, will welcome the legislature’s decision not to include an integrity fee/royalty in the new legislation, although leagues and colleges will be able to restrict the types of wagers on offer.
Illinois’ new gambling legislation also allows for the introduction of six new casinos to add to its existing 10, one of which will be located in Chicago which currently has no such facility. Additionally the city’s O’Hare and Midway airports will now be able to offer slots. The majority of the state’s gambling revenue will be used to fund a $45bn, six-year ‘Rebuild Illinois’ plan that includes roads, bridges, transit and education among other projects.
Governor Pritzker applauded lawmakers for completing what he described as one of the most ambitious and consequential legislative sessions in this state’s history. Quoted by Reuters, he said: “We worked hard in a bipartisan fashion to pass a budget and to get a massive, important infrastructure bill passed.”